8/25/09

The Fixer

Is anyone else getting excited about the new Pearl Jam record? I am. Years ago they won me over with their blend of old and new sounds, their well-crafted recordings and their outrageous energy. In an era when most frontmen were singing about cherry pie Eddie Vedder was a breath of fresh air. He seemed like a guy you could admire and hang out with at the same time. Interesting lyrics, heartfelt presentation...I really liked them. Over the years I followed them less and less. It seemed like the songcraft was drifting away from my taste and it was becoming less relevant to me.

Their new single, The Fixer, is fantastic. It has all of the elements I used to love with enough new stuff to keep me interested. I find myself in admiration of Eddie Vedder once again, and I absolutely love the way the band sounds. It's cool that the song was written by drummer Matt Cameron. It makes me think that Pearl Jam is a real band made up of guys who all like and respect each others contributions.

Cameron Crowe directed the video. It looks great and makes me wish I could see these guys in a small club. It's free on iTunes...check it out!

http://www.itunes.com/backspacer

8/18/09

Wage Slaves finale

Another week went by so quickly. Honestly, this whole year has flown by in a blur. I'm looking forward to a bit of time to rest and write in my new digs in Seattle.

The Sunday show at Mississippi Pizza in Portland was great. Some friends came out to support and I felt really happy to play for them. The set flowed nicely, I didn't forget very many words and I kept the awkward banter to a minimum. I tried a new approach to merchandise sales, too; I left a stack of cd's by the tip jar and told the audience to help themselves to a cd for whatever they could afford. When I was done playing the cd's were gone and the tip jar was full. Nice.

On Monday I taught the first day of a week-long rock band camp for kids. I've done this for a few years in a row and every year I have fun. The kids are totally excited to play some tunes with a full band and I'm glad to have a week to spend teaching the subtleties of 'Smells Like Teen Spirit'.

Another fun thing: Wage Slaves wraps up its season with episode 6 this week! Created by Chris Bolton, Wage Slaves is a web-based series about the baristas at the fictional 'Rose City Coffee'. Many of the songs on my record were used as the soundtrack for the entire series, and I make a cameo in a few episodes including the one this week. I've written a more detailed description in recent blogs but the best way to find out about it is to see for yourself.


8/12/09

The shrinking/expanding world of the internet

A few months ago I bought a couple of microphones from a guy named Mike Jasper in Austin, Texas. He posted them for sale on a recording forum called Gearslutz. As a precaution, we spoke on the phone before the money and mics were exchanged. Turns out he's a baseball fan as well as a writer for TapeOp, a recording mag I love. We chatted for a bit about music and ballgames and he told me about a songwriter friend of his, a guy named Slaid Cleaves. I hadn't heard Slaid before so I checked him out online. Wow...he's good!

Mike and I stayed in touch via email and he asked me to take part in a panel for an upcoming article in TapeOp. I did, and sure enough I got to see my name in print in one of my favorite magazines. Cool.

Then, I moved to Seattle. I was booking shows as I usually do and I noticed that Slaid Cleaves is coming to town in September, playing at The Tractor Tavern. I happen to know the guy who books the Tractor...I asked him if I could open the show and he gave me the gig. September 20th...tell your friends.

I'm thinking back to the days before the internet. This would never have happened. The internet has drawn the corners of the world within easy reach, making these sorts of connections an almost daily experience.

Old news, I know, but sometimes it's fun to think about how we managed before technology came along.

Anyway, here's video of Slaid playing a tune called 'Cry'.


8/4/09

Seattle!

I have always loved Seattle. Now I live here.

Anna and I moved two days ago after a whirlwind couple of months of big life changes. Marriage, trip to Italy, deaths in the family, career moves, etc., etc. We’ve been busy. Somehow in the midst of everything it became clear that we wanted to leave Eugene in search of new opportunities, so we did. She interviewed for a job, a week later they gave her the nod and within 48 hours we were in Seattle.

I’m excited. There is a community of artists here that rivals any in the country. I have seen it from the periphery and now I can jump in. I’ll take a cue from my buddy John Shipe; when he moved to SoCal last year he immediately hit the open mic circuit. It seemed like a step backwards for someone who has been playing professionally for years, but within a few weeks he connected with a ton of local music fans and made a few good friends.

Last night I played at an open mic for the first time in years. Molly Maguire’s is a cool little Irish pub in Ballard. It’s like Cheers where everybody knows each other. When my turn came up I played my tunes and felt warmly received. Looks like I may be invited to play a songwriter in the round show this week.

It’s hard to know what will come of this move. It happened fast and without much forethought, but it’s a step in the right direction. As my friend Joe once said, “How can I look when I’m already leaping?”