7/31/07

Eugene blues

I'm not as good at maintaining routines as I'd like to be. I have a hard time adhering to schedules, even when they're self-imposed. This is not always the case; I exercise every day, alternating between running and swimming. I look forward to it and do it faithfully, rain or shine. So, why can't I make myself sit down and write every day? Who knows. Maybe the key is to find the routines that work, not work to make the routines fit.

For a few weeks now I've been getting up every day between six and seven AM and doing chores. My folks have horses and, especially since my mom broke her finger, they can always use an extra hand. So I've put myself on an early-to-bed schedule. Well...a few nights ago a friend had a housewarming party and I felt the need to attend. It was fun; I talked about fishing with a guy, Minnesota with a girl, et., etc. It was close to my bedtime when someone suggested that we move to the bar a block away. I was about to make the usual excuses but, for some reason, I chose to go along with the gang. I would be tired the next morning, for sure. I didn't care. I'm reckless.

The Vet's Club is just what the name implies...kind of an 'old guy' hangout. Vinyl seats and smoke stains on the walls...clientele of the older-middle-aged variety. We walked up and milled around the entrance, trying to decide if it was worth it to pay the cover charge to get in. After a few minutes of this the door guy let us in for free. Nice. I walked to the bar and placed my order, and I was halfway through my first swallow when I realized that the blues band on stage was pretty good. Wait...really good! I recognized the hammond player; he's been kicking around Eugene for years and years. I didn't know the other guys in the band. The drummer was a young guy, everyone else was fifty or so, and he was rocking pretty hard and seemed to really love it. The other guys were great, too. I haven't cared to listen to a blues guitar solo for about five years but these guys were undeniably good. It was perfect; funky bar, dim lights, blues band, cold beer. I really liked it and I didn't even think about leaving until they finished their set. I walked out of there feeling pretty inspired and like I had become reacquainted with an old friend. It's good to watch people do what they love. It's also good to know when to bend your own rules.

The past couple of days have been so-so in regards to the record. I've been focusing in on the near view, thinking about lyrics and bits and pieces. I need to pull back a bit and try to get a handle on the overall record. I feel good about the way each song is coming along but I'm not sure how they'll all fit together as a whole. One of the challenges of doing everything yourself is maintaining perspective, or multiple perspectives. Forest for the trees and so on. I often think about the conversations I had with Rob Schnapf while we were working on the Justin record. He found the zoom-in, zoom-out thing to be a challenge too. He handled it quite well. It's just part of the role of the producer to keep track of this kind of stuff. I have found myself wishing I had another producer to work with. At the same time, I want to learn everything I can through this process. I have a feeling that the value of making this record will mostly be in the education I am receiving by doing it this way.

There.

7/28/07

Shows

Hey folks,

I have a couple of big shows in Eugene in August...both are at the Cuthbert Amphitheater and each one will be huge fun!

August 14
I open for Jonny Lang and Los Lonely Boys! I've asked a few of my good friends to join me for this one...it'll be the first full band show I've played in a while! Very exciting...

August 18
The Floydian Slips return! This 'band' began ten years ago when a few friends decided to learn Pink Floyd's 'Dark Side of the Moon'. It was very well recieved and the show has grown like a well-fed pig. This one promises to be the largest one yet, with an expected audience of several thousand Floyd fans. I'll be strumming along on my acoustic guitar, singing backups, and wondering how this happened.

Still working away on the record, mind you. See you soon!

7/24/07

Working away...

Good news, good news. The tunes are coming along nicely this week. I have 'Land on You' mostly done and I've started recording another brand new one. Justin King has been generous enough to let me use his studio every once in a while, so my anxiety about getting good sounds is greatly reduced. I'm not sure if I've ever given Justin his due thanks...he has helped many times in many ways.

I met with a new friend for coffee yesterday. Brooke is a Eugenian who has been out in the world for the past few years and she has a ton of experience as a songwriter. She and I are planning to get together this week to co-write. Co-writing is something that the Eugene community hardly ever does, but is totally commonplace in NY, LA, Nashville, Austin, etc. I'm glad to have met someone here who is hip to it.

I have a couple of production things coming up in August...I'm excited to have a chance to be part of someone else's creative process. The artists are both great...

A good friend, Jenny Queen, is about to record an album...she and I wrote a bunch of tunes last time I was in NY; hopefully a few of them will make the cut.

Still assembling songs for my record. I'd like to write one or two more tunes that aren't about love relationships...we'll see. Fiona Apple gets away with it.

I'll be exploring a new creek this week. Heard there are some great swimming holes nearby, in case you were wondering.

7/22/07

A little sideways

A friend just alerted me to the fact that someone posted a clip from the Country Fair show on YouTube. Thanks! The song is a newer one called 'Land on You'...I'm not sure why it appears the way it does but it somehow makes sense that a video from the Country Fair came out sideways. Here's the link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBofhD710Yk

Also, I plan to post a rough mix of this tune in a day or two...

On a side note: You know when you have a bad dream and, upon waking, you feel a great sense of relief? I had one like that last night. The Oakland A's had been eliminated from the playoffs.

7/17/07

Oregon Country Fair

The Oregon Country Fair is a scene, to say the least. For three days each year the tiny town of Veneta, Oregon, is overrun by thousands of hippies. They come from all over to reunite and have been for over thirty years...it's a place where peace, love, and the ideals of the 60's generation rule. There are half a dozen stages or more...music is played 'round the clock. I played at 11 am on Saturday morning to an enthusiastic audience. I made some new friends and saw some old ones...

I spent most of each day behind the counter at my friend's tamale booth serving food to hungry fairgoers. The rest of the time was spent walking around, listening to bands, and watching folks go by. I didn't have time, space, or energy to write anything at all. I'm home again and anxious to spend some time with my guitar.

I'll start recording soon. I'm looking forward to it. There's a certain kind of creative head space that I've only experienced in the studio. All else takes the back seat and I focus entirely on the work. I think I'll have some friends play on the new songs...I like doing everything myself but I think it's better to have more folks involved. It's like dogs; purebreds are fancy but mutts are usually the most healthy and free of neuroses.

Perhaps I'll post some demos this week...

7/10/07

Up a creek

I've been home for a couple of weeks now. It's the longest stretch of time I've spent in any one place all year. At first it felt like the brakes had been slammed on and I screeched to a halt amid a cloud of dust and burned rubber. I've done a thorough evaluation and, though I may have been shaken, nothing broke.

I'm back at the folks' house in the country, the purpose being to write and record more songs for a record. I have plenty of time every day to devote to the task, and plenty of life experience to write about. Still, it's not coming easily. So, I decided that I'd take some time to restore a sense of balance in my life in the hopes that I could trick myself into being more productive. Here's my internal dialogue:



Interior. FRUSTRATED WHINY SELF is staring at the wall.

RESPONSIBLE SELF: You should be writing and recording!

FRUSTRATED WHINY SELF: I don't have anything to write about. I'm tired and frustrated.

RS: Oh, I understand. You're right. We should just go fishing instead. You know, to restore balance.

FWS: Good idea! I like you. We should hang out more often!

Cut to: Standing in the middle of a large creek putting bait on a hook.

RS: Ahhh...nothing like the oudoors, eh Whiny?

FWS: Yep. Nothing beats it. The only thing I like better is writing, recording, and performing tunes.

RS: Really? You've had all this free time and you haven't done any of those things. I thought maybe you'd lost the spark.

FWS: Lost the spark? Never! Matter of fact, I think we should get out of this water and go back home to write!

RS: (Smiles to himself) Okay, Whiny. Whatever you want.