March Onward

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And we’re back.  March has the potential to be pretty amazing. Starting in Vermont seeing shows by The Security Project (playing old Peter Gabriel tunes) and then Richard Thompson.  Then its off to Texas for South by Southwest with a list of gigs too long to go into here. Then its back to Vermont to play a couple shows with the Radio Underground. After that its back to prep for the May shows with the Orchestra of Crafty Guitarists.  Not a bad month.

 


The Evolution of the Board, part 7

Here we have an example of the technological excess that I rely on to make the noise I make. This is my Radio Underground/general rock pedalboard. Yes, it’s heavy and a pain to load in. Yes, it is worth it.

The signal path goes along as such:

guitar input -> Line 6 M5 with expression pedal for whammy and wah presets -> MXR Dynacomp -> Ernie Ball volume pedal – Korg Pitchblack tuner -> B.C. Rich programable swithcher (that swithches between my preamp and distortion/fuzz sounds: a DOD EQ, an early ’80s Ibanez TS9, a Sovtek Big Muff and an Electro Harmonix Tube Zipper) -> ART Tube preamp -> Electro Harmonix Freeze -> Line 6 M9 for delays/modulation/basic looping -> off to the amps!

 


Radio Underground @ Das Bierhaus, 9/28/13

RU did Das Bierhaus in Burlington last Saturday nite.  We played outside which was wonderful.  During the second set we had a special guest, Dice Raw of the Roots rapped during the instrumental break-down.  Given the number of cameras and smiles I think it was well-received.  He had so much fun he joined us again later on Trace.  It was a pleasant surprise to see and hear us successfully collide with Hip-hop.  Hopefully I will get my hands on some of the video/audio recording.

 


So We Begin Again

Summer has ended and I’m trying to organize/prioritize/categorize my projects. Currently at hand are the following: Stick practice (ongoing), NST practice/repertoire (ongoing) – in anticipation of next Spring’s Orchestra of Crafty Guitarists Northeast USA appearances, mixing the live Radio Underground EP, rehearsing for some forthcoming RU shows, demoing for the next Ghost Ghost recording, exploring booking opportunities for both RU and solo gigs, knocking the dust off of the Pantet repertoire and restarting that behemoth.  This is all in addition to the usual ongoing rig construction/deconstruction/reconstruction, instrument maintenance, web meandering  and occasionally pondering returning to my two solo recording projects. One of these days…

 


Orchestra of Crafty Guitarists VII Northeast Tour

Here‘s a tidbit from The Boston Globe that does a pretty good job describing the Orchestra of Crafty Guitarists.

 


Pantet at 51 Main

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Opportunity knocked for the Pantet in the form of a gig at 51 Main in Middlebury on May 9th.  It was billed as “and Evening of Animation and Music” and the first set was spent accompanying short animated films from Heimo’s Studio Art I students.  As our part was entirely improvised there were varying degrees of efficacy in our accompaniment.  It was a lot of fun, though. We then played two sets that were made up of composed pieces, small-group improvisations and full-group improvisations accompanying some of Heimo’s own animations.  Again, a lot of fun.  The evening was also a good exercise in focusing on both charts and working within a constantly evolving soundscape.  The place was packed (a lot of friends of the animators and the lure of $5 margaritas).  51 Main was not designed with performance in mind and is a pretty tough room as far as sound goes.  I will have to consult the recording to see what it sounded like from somewhere other than my stool.

 


Back in Action

So, things have been slowly ramping-up for my return to active duty.  Over the last few months Radio Underground has shaken off the dust and put down roots in another doomed nitespot (The Purple Moon Pub in Waitsfield – now closed apparently), I have started working with a new ensemble (Kareem Kahlifa’s Pantet) and am readying to leap back into the Guitar Circle universe.

First the RU: had a really good evening playing at the Purple Moon. Bedard was taking his new kit for a spin and this was the first gig with my baritone guitar added to the arsenal (growl!). The small-ish crowd seemed to really enjoy the noise.  I was told afterward one patron was saying he was positive I was somebody famous but he couldn’t figure out who I was. Heck, there are times when I can’t figure out who I am.  In other RU news, I am continuing to work on mixes for the Live at Nectar’s collection.  In my overabundance of free time (he wrote sarcastically).

I have also been playing Stick in Kareem Kahlifa’s Pantet.  The band features KK on guitar, Heimo Wallner on trumpet and vocals, Ron Rost on Hammond, Moog, various other keys, drums and percussion, Deborah Felmeth on acoustic piano and vocals, and Kane Mathis on Oud and drums. Described as “a group that combines elements of the jazz tradition with rock, classical, avant-garde, and world music”, or as I described it, “Arabic Space Jazz”. We are playing charts by Kareem as well as stuff by Abdullah Ibrahim and Franz Schubert. In the words of Heimo, “if you think that sounds weird wait ’till you hear it”.  It’s been a great experience so far and having to read music again has been a good pointed stick.

The big news is that on the horizon is a short Northeastern tour with the Orchestra of Crafty Guitarists.  More details to follow.

 


Back on Hiatus.

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Got a few projects to mix but other than that I will be laying low for a while. Hopefully not too long.

 


RU – Nectar’s, 05/30/12

Radio Underground played Nectar’s last night and it ranks among the top 10 gigs in my life.  It was a sweat-soaked, fingers-hurt, face-hurts-from-smiling, voice-blown-out-in-spite-of-vocal-warm-up, don’t-give-a-shit-there’s-only-seven-people-in-the-audience, unrelenting bacchanal of sound waves.  Other performers on the bill were cool, the beer in the dressing room cold (and drinkable) and we got fed. Not sure how it felt for the other guys and the recording my prove otherwise but it felt like I could do no wrong. My fingers kept up with my brain and everything in the rig did what it was supposed to without any technical glitches. Beat the hell out of the Tele and it kept on ticking (proof even Squiers have their merrits) though I still need to verify it survived the end of set slam for punctuation (tho’ it always does). The sound guy knew what he was doing and all of the staff were friendly (from the front door to the kitchen). I even got a good parking spot.

This is why I still do this, unnoticed and at a financial loss.

 

 


Memory Lane

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Watched The Unheard Music (documentary on the band X) and Mayor of the Sunset Strip (documentary on DJ Rodney Bingenheimer) and started to feel a tad nostalgic for the LA of the ’90s. Then we hit the anniversary of the LA riots and the nostalgia disintegrated. Still it got me thinking of the days in the clubs with Fools and Fodder and sent me digging through the archives for the tracks-in-progress from the unfinished remastering of the Feckless album. But let’s back up for those of you who have no idea what any of this means…

As the 1980s ground to an end (along with my college career) songwriter/singer Judy Contreras and her songwriting partner guitarist Mike Krupa decided to put a band together. Mike drafted drummer Paul Mitchell (from their then-defunct punk band Zero Initiative) and me (on guitar, bass, mandolin, banjo) whom he had collaborated with on some theatrical scoring projects and Fools and Fodder was born. Taking inspiration from the pre-alternative artists of the day both from Los Angeles (Concrete Blonde, Peter Case, Lone Justice) and from farther away (Elvis Costello, Squeeze, Split Enz, etc) we crafted a sound that was equal parts pop, rock, celtic and cowpunk.

Judy named the band, inspired by a quote from Berthold Brecht’s Threepenny Opera (“First comes fodder, then comes morality”) and wrote all the lyrics and Mike wrote the bulk of the music and I contributed the occasional hook. We stormed out of the San Gabriel Valley and onto the stages of the legendary Hollywood/LA clubs. I remember sitting in the dressing room the first time we played the Whiskey a Go-Go soaking up the rock history. Or playing a 50 minute set doubletime to fit in to our suddenly reduced 30 minute time slot to a bewildered crowd at the Palamino. Or playing our first show at the Roxy the night before my wedding (which was a pretty good replacement for a bachelor party).

We were once booked to play a club somewhere in Ontario (?) and were told we had the whole night. Upon arriving there were 2 other bands that apparently were told the same thing and the management was saying we could each do a 40 minute set. After a quick band huddle we walked out, walked to the park across the street and did an acoustic show for all the regular fans (as well as some new ones), none of whom set foot inside the club that night.

The Contreras/Krupa writing team cranked out some great songs and we eventually headed into the studio to record what would be out first (and only) album, Feckless. I still feel today that if the band had stuck together and persevered it could have taken off and become something really great. Unfortunately the combination of dissagreement on songwriting credit, solo-artist-itis and a complete lack of maturity sent me from zero to fuck you in record time. I quit, thinking they would persevere as a trio but not really caring. They didn’t. Oh for a time machine.

Back in the present I am digitising my archives including the album, demos and bootlegs. I’ll probably post one or two things here eventually.

 


 

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