Archive for June, 2010

Shout at the Desert


<a href="">Shout at the Desert by Crime and the Forces of Evil</a>

As “Stay Away” is a song for the desperate, an inverted and half-disguised last desperate plea for help, “Shout at the Desert” is a song for the lost – it is a shout at the desert, a howl made terrified that no one is listening, screamed out anyway.

I learned a lot recording this one, as I talked about a couple of days ago. I think it really shows. It’s best played with better speakers and/or a headset, particularly for the organ. Loud is recommended.

taking things out

Been working on “Shout at the Desert” for the last couple of weeks now. Along with “Stay Away,” it’s one of the songs I use if I want to make a God Damned Impression in a short period of time. “Two songs: one for the desperate. One for the lost.” But recording it has been tricky.

I’ve never recorded and then taken back out as much as I have here. Original bassline? Gone, replaced with one much simpler. Original keyboard track? Gone, replaced with… well, technically two, but much simpler. Original two bodhran tracks? Gone, and spooled off to storage, not replaced. They all sounded awesome alone, or with just the zouk, or even when being recorded; and they all sounded like ass – the original bass line like spastic colon ass – put with the rest of the song. Seriously, I’d be listening and I’d think, ‘how the hell did this happen?’ and hit the SOLO button and it’d sound awesome again, and then back into the mix… and death.

The only percussion in this thing is struck mandolin, and that’s slightly off-timed, on purpose. Most of the timing in this thing is crazy precise, and the zouk and regular mandolin carry the beat. I played with a kokiriko track and some bamboo slap work and and other percussion and never even recorded any of it.

It’s teaching me… discipline, I think. It’s a scary little monster of a song. I think that fits.



…has a keytar ^_^

Oh, I forgot to mention

I played an open mic tonight at Hopvine Pub on Capital Hill; damn that’s a little stage! But nice crowd; I had fun! I’ll probably do it again, maybe with more warning. (A dancer appeared to Stay Away again! <3 <3 <3 dancers!)

I also played the Soul Food Books open mic back on the 5th; they [had] archived video [now removed]; my bit starts 8:28ish in. Sadly, the levels weren’t very high this time, and you can hear instrument, but not much of vocals. These are the first recordings of “Where Are You (My Love)” and “Something’s Coming” – it’s kind of my habit to show up with new songs for Soul Food. When you see me reaching for a chord over and over again on Where Are You? It’s a modified G chord that has a difficult note five frets down. I made it up! It’s hard to play but I’ll get it eventually. ^_^


I ask Anna what she wants for dinner, and turn back to the digital audio workstation to work on a bassline while she answers. (I can’t really play bass yet, I can just play it enough to kinda fake it in studio if you don’t listen too closely. But I am getting better!) Then I glance back at the laptop, and it’s been an hour, and Anna’s coming in the front door.

Um, heh. Oops. Time to make the dinnars!

Next show is July 4th, Everett Marina, 1-3pm! Come by!

Help a struggling musician out?

Hey Oregon peeps! I have a July 12th show in Redmond, Oregon! I’d love to have a second somewhere in the state within a couple of days of the 12th so I can call it my Oregon Tour! (lol musical cannibalism) I’ve been poking around, but so far, venues all say it’s too late to book anything that soon, call them again in October (omg). Help a struggling new musician find an audience, anyone? ^_^

oh, i almost forgot (setlist)

Setlist; I went a bit over my hour with it, but not a lot; all songs mine unless otherwise noted in italics:

(World Trapped in) Amber
Something’s Coming
Cascadia (How I Have Missed You) (Instrumental)
When You Leave
Stay Away
Shout at the Desert
Where is your Heaven?
Let Me Help
Come to the Labyrinth (S.J. Tucker; plugged the Tricky Pixie show in Kenmore)
Thought You Knew
Goin’ Up (Great Big Sea; plugged the Woodland Park show in Seattle)
Life in the Underground (New arrangement and ending, instrumental)
Thought You Knew

my better half

So Folklife was definitely the better half of the long weekend wrapping into Tuesday. I already posted about Folklife, which was awesome. The gig in Renton was… fine, really; technically okay, as far as I could tell; my playing was decent, if not really inspired. I couldn’t tell how I sounded because the monitor system didn’t work. I kept the audience around well enough, which is apparently one of their yardsticks; the music manager told me a lot of the musicians they bring in finish up playing to empty seating!

Frankly, I find that terrifying and was glad not to share that fate. It happens for a reason more or less built in to the venue: if you’re playing there, you’re also closing a farmer’s market. The organisers in fact announced market closing right before my last song, and about a third of the audience left then, even though I had one more song on my setlist.

I wasn’t able to get anyone to run a merch table for me (because Renton, because 5:30 start time), which meant I didn’t even get a chance to try to sell CDs. Amusingly, while I didn’t put out a tip jar, a couple of people found where I’d left it (behind the stage, on a table, under a tent) and put money in anyway. That’s determination, and I salute them for it!

But the big thing I learned was that a setlist that really gets people engaged and interested at Folklife isn’t necessarily going to carry over to other venues. I mean, sure, obviously; I knew that; but I was surprised at the degree. Even “Stay Away”/”Shout at the Desert” didn’t really engage the crowd, and that’s never happened before. Since I didn’t know the venue beforehand, I just tried to put together a set that sounded really strong to me, and tested it against a real audience beforehand, so I thought I was on good footing. I went in optimistic.

But down in Renton, turns out that didn’t mean anything. Much of the crowd was older (a lot of 60-somethings) and interested mostly in music of the 1950s. I can appreciate that – I know and often like that music – but it’s not what I do. I tried really hard to reach out and engage them, and honestly, without a lot of success. But I soldiered on.

Fortunately, there were also a few families with children, and their kids bounced up and down and danced in front of me the entire time, which always helps. Then they stage-rushed me demanding stickers afterwards, which I am always glad to hand out, and that was just fun. ^_^ I got a real case of giggles seeing one of the moms a few minutes later walking out with a big SKETCHY CHARACTERS sticker stuck to her sweater. I’ll need to make more!

NEXT SHOW: Well, actually, I’m thinking I’m gonna do the Soul Food Books Open Mic on Saturday, in Redmond. I’ll premiere new songs, like I always do; come down if you want to hear ’em! But my next official show is Everett Market for 4th of July, Everett Marina, Washington. I’ll be loading up with traditionals for that one, I think. We’ll see.

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