This is a list of some works in progress that should see the light of day in something like the order they are listed here.
*Folk Implosion Album
We began working on this project in July of 2021, with me playing drums and Lou playing bass, just making up ideas for rhythm section parts. We ended up with 2 hours of raw material. I edited the big mess into 20+ candidates for songs, narrowed it down to ten of them, and added guitar and synth rough ideas. We reconvened at Lou’s house in March and played guitar and bass together to an iPad drum machine app to define and arrange verse-chorus-bridge type structures, variations and transitions. We spent the next several months working on writing sound textures, lyrics and vocals, followed by a week studio time in August of 2022, when we finished the basic drum and bass tracks as well as lots of guitars and other stringed instruments. We’re currently engaged in remotely coordinated overdubbing and fine tuning, with hopes for a release in the fall of 2023. Fingers crossed.
*Collaboration with Lake
In 2017, I played a show at The Business in Anacortes, Washington. I went out to dinner afterwards with members of the band Lake and the engineer at the local recording studio, which is called Unknown. After dinner, I was invited to tour the studio to see if I might like to record there someday. I really liked what I saw – especially how the room sounded. It’s a converted church whose ceiling resembles the shape of an air hanger. Eli Moore gave me a Lake CD and a Baby Island tape, and I really liked them. I kept coming back to this purple and pink Baby Island tape over and over after I got a cassette player on tour in Athens GA. It got stuck in my imagination, despite being quite different from the way I usually play – or perhaps because of that.
Fast forward a few years and my mom and my brother moved to the San Juan Islands, a ferry boat ride away from Anacortes. So I got in touch with Eli and asked if he wanted to record a few songs at Unknown right before Christmas in 2022. Andrew, the drummer and keyboard player in Lake, came along with me and Eli and Nich, the engineer at Unknown. Everything clicked and worked and I was super happy with the results. I thought at first those songs would be a single, but then I decided that they were so good that I wanted to make them part of a full album. We did six more days of studio time in June of 2022 when I was out there visiting family. It was a great experience. Megan Siebe just added some cello to a few songs with Ben Brodin at his place in Omaha, and Scott Solter is nearing completion of the first draft of mixes for all 11 tunes. There’s some bangers and some ballads too. Look for this one to come out in 2023 for sure.
*I Saw Sonora Hypnotized
This is a complex project that’s been taking me a long time to finish. It’s similar to the El Pulpo album I put out with the Cicadas in 2017 in its instrumentation and political/historical nature. 5 of the tunes on this 7 song LP are about the westward expansion of US colonization in the 19th century. They range from the role slavery played in the Lewis & Clark expedition, Zebulon Pike’s scouting-under-capture of the present day Southwestern US (when it was part of the Spanish Empire), William Becknell and the Santa Fe Trail, and the role violence against Chinese immigrants and Native Americans played in the 1849 Gold Rush and the founding of the city of San Francisco as we presently know it. The final song about westward expansion song is based on the book The Great Cowboy Strike: Bullets, Ballots and Class Conflict in the American West by Mark A. Lause. There’s also a song called A Chorus Line based on the Busby Berkeley film Gold Diggers of 1933 that deals with sexual predation, and a song called Cold about a character with a Midas touch that turns everything to ice instead of gold.
Lyrics to 4 of the 7 songs date back to around 2006, and home recorded parts have been kicking around for years in the home studio. The collaborative phase of this project began with recording Oud and arranging song structures with Scott Solter in Mid March of 2018. Things continued out in Portland OR at Type Foundry Studios on April 1-3 of ’18 with Joe Plummer (Cold War Kids, Modest Mouse, Shins) on drums, Atlanta’s Noah Estrella on bass, Scott Solter on Optigan and upright piano, Brandon Eggleston engineering, and me on guitars and iPad synthesis. There were lots of Lewis and Clark references around Portland, from 76 gas stations to national parks, and we had lots of conversation about why Portland is such a white city, with references to Klan activity in the state of Oregon during the time of its ongoing colonization, (see the Oregon chapter of the book Hooded Americanism.) Memories were also fresh from a show I played in San Francisco right after Thanksgiving, where I saw an exhibit at San Francisco MOMA about the gold rush era of 1849, and was reminded how much of contemporary SF iconography trades on the Gold Rush, much as my native MA trades on colonial era Pilgrim icons and racist mythology including but not limited to the original “Thanksgiving.”
We did an additional day of drums with Rob Chamberlain in Durham on Memorial Day weekend of ’18, on the eve of his departure for summer tour with his duo Evil English. We had fun using some choice steel drum and percussion stuff I picked up at the amazing Revival Drum Shop in Portland, along with a discarded spin dryer Scott rigged up as a kick drum. I spent the following summer adding guitar, synthesis, bass, loops and editing/premixing at home. Vocals came next in early fall of ’18 here at the ranch. We did a day of viola and violin with Justin Blatt in the final session at Scott’s studio on Orient St in Durham, which subsequently moved across town. Then…I hit a wall. This album got put on the back burner due to two very stressful school / teacher’s union years. (2018-2019 and 2019-2020.) However, I got back to work in 2021-2022 and finished everything except vocals for the song about striking cowboys. We should be ready to mix in early 2023.