11/30/09

I wrote a Christmas song...

Things are really getting busy around here. I've been writing and recording, booking shows, and plotting my course for the coming year. Highlights include a mini tour in late December with my Australian pal Krista Polvere, and a mini tour in January with my Oregonian pal John Shipe. I'll cover the Northwest thoroughly between the two.

I may have mentioned that I play lap steel for the Portland band The Dimes who just released their new record, 'The King Can Drink The Harbour Dry' to overwhelming critical praise. Very nice.

And, as the title of the blog suggests, I wrote a Christmas song. I'm a little self-conscious about it...please don't tease me. Today I was trying to decide how I should put it out into the world. Release it as a single? Put it on iTunes? Print up some CD-R's and wrap them with a bow to sell at shows? In the end I decided to embrace the spirit of the season and give it away. I took it a step further and created the Ebbage Patch Song Collection, a site where I'll post all sorts of free downloads. Expect to see live recordings, demos, b-sides...everything that would otherwise go unreleased. It's on a separate site...in the future I'll figure out how to link it with my website but for now, go to:

http://ehrenebbagesongs.blogspot.com/

The downloads are free...I did however add a link to donate in case the spirit of the season grabs you too.

11/10/09

Talk softly, carry a big schtick


Portland, Oregon is chock full of bands. Get coffee anywhere on Mississippi Ave and you're likely to be served by someone in a band. It's actually pretty cool...music is alive and vibrant in the soggy Northwest town. Bands are taking chances and pushing boundaries. You're more likely to see a band made up of accordions, glockenspiels, violins and clarinets than you are a two-guitar, bass and drums band. Take Loch Lomond for example; they're emerging as one of Portland's sweetheart bands and they don't even have a proper drumset. They're great.

As with all music scenes, there is a tendency for bands to be born with all of the aesthetic of the trail blazers but none of the substance. It becomes a schtick. Think about all of the Beatles copycats. The psychedelic clones. The southern rock of the seventies. The countless punk bands. The new wave scene. The LA hair band scene. The Seattle grunge scene. Etc., etc. For every great groundbreaking band, for every cool music scene, there are a dozen more who jump on the bandwagon.

There are signs of this in Portland.

I have the honor of playing in The Dimes, a Portland band with a schtick. But it's not. The band's last record, 'The Silent Generation' is a concept album of sorts. Guitarist Pierre Kaiser found a cache of turn of the century newspapers stuffed under the floorboards of his house. Songwriter Johnny Clay decided to write songs based on the quirky stories in the papers. Sort of an indie pop history album. Through the process, Johnny found his voice. He is a genuine history buff, and he found a way to merge his music with his interest in US history.

Since making this connection, Johnny has become a prolific writer. The songs pour out of him and the inspiration is obvious to all of us in the band. It is entirely genuine. He loves it. It may seem like a schtick, and I guess it is; the band that only writes songs about obscure historical figures from the pages of history. The truth is, it's an honest artistic effort and it's very well executed. Johnny has a clear vision for his music and he is going to see it through.

The band is preparing to release a new album, 'The King Can Drink The Harbour Dry' this weekend with shows in Seattle, Portland, Eugene and Ashland, OR.


There have been some glowing reviews in the lead up to the release. There have been a couple reviews written by critics who are not impressed. Fair enough. For what it's worth, I am totally inspired by Johnny's commitment to his vision and I am honored to be involved in the project. The record is worth having in your collection, and the live show is worth braving the rainy weather to see. If you're in the Northwest come check out one of the shows, and if you're elsewhere spend a few bucks on a great record. Get all of the info at The Dimes website HERE