Friday, September 30, 2011

The Question Is Not Entirely Rhetorical ...

Do It in The Road

Lord Vader requests a drink from your lovin' cup
"The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the jam." -Hippie Vader

This is one of my favorite Beatles songs. I like it for it's absolute and complete lack of pretense.

It is minimalist and controversial all at the same time. Also it is perhaps the most cocky, outrageous statement imaginable. Bombast exemplified.

This is my band, the Thumbless Hitchhikers, playin' this one like butter plays toast. For obvious reasons, we will not be busting this out at the Madison Street Festival on Saturday. We will, however, be droppin' phat jams like ya mamma be droppin' air biscuits. Funky.

The Thumbless Hitchhikers
10.01: A Jam Odyssey
Saturday, October 1, 2011
Madison, AL
Gazebo Stage

Sunday, September 25, 2011

10/01: a Jam Odyssey

Big Cycle Beat

"I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think that any conscious entity can ever hope to do." - HAL

This Saturday, October 1, 2011 in the Gazebo at the Madison Street Festival in the heart of Madison, AL, my band, The Thumbless Hitchhikers, will unleash upon the universe, a vibe so groovy, it will bend the fabric of space-time, resulting in an incomprehensible barrage of light and sound.

Yes, my friends, it is 10.01: a jam odyssey!

I know in your mind you want it funky, so don't miss the show. Bring the kids, enjoy the food, beautiful weather, and local artists, and boooogie-ooogie-oogie with the Thumbless Hitchhikers in the Gazebo at 2:30 PM.

This track is an excerpt of an extended jam on "I know you rider". That song always wrings soul out of the ether when we play it, like it has some super natural aura that instantly connects with the jam-gestalt of the band. You can almost never tell where it's going to go, and this was one of those moments, when it really went somewhere special. I'd forgotten that we were even recording. There were mistakes, but it was really a special moment sort of accidentally caught on tape.

This was posted on our myspace page a few years and picked up by local radio station WTAK. We were so phyched, that we recorded our recording of ourselves jamming in the shed as it was played off the air. It was such a cool moment. The station had told us ahead of time, what night and time it'd be played, and we'd called everyone we knew to have them listen. I remember my grandmother called me afterward and said "it was very pretty", LOL ... good times.

See you at the show! I'm the dude playing keys :-)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Breakbeat Manifesto

Big Cycle Beat

"Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing." ― Salvador DalĂ­

You simply wouldn't believe the story of this song. It's pretty incredible.

In the spring of 2009, there was a particularly rainy weekend. I didn't have much to do, so I sat down in my music room and started making beats. I had a vocal on my hard drive that I'd downloaded from a site called back in 2007. It was this fella Ashwan spittin' mad knowledge. I'd always meant to do something with it, and so I put it on those beats. I recorded some acoustic guitar as well. Then I uploaded it back to ccmixter (because after all, sharing is caring). Then I forgot about it.

What happened next defies belief. It involves these scantily clad ladies and a Spanish language gentleman's magazine known as "Don Juan", who picked my music up off ccmixter and put it on their promotional video. If you don't believe me you can still see it on their website here.

Go ahead, I'll wait. Latin hotties probably warrant a click-through, yo :-).

So, from my spare room, to the internet, to a photoshoot half a world away. How awesome is that?

Also it got picked up by local radio station WTAK and was played once on their local "home grown" radio show about a year later. That's sort of a footnote compared to the hotties, y'know?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

There's a Distance ...

No Rebuttal (bridge between mix)

the bridge between
“I have realized that the past and future are real illusions, that they exist in the present, which is what there is and all there is.” - Alan Watts

Today is the 10th anniversary of September 11th, 2001. With all the horror-porn floating around, and flag waving seemingly oblivious to all that has happened in the intervening decade, it's hard not to feel a little hopeless.

DNA gives me hope today. There is no statement so swiftly and widely derided in these times as this: "we are all connected, we are all one."

Any variant of that sentiment seems to dredge up visions of new-agey hippies navel gazing and living off the dole. It is, however an inescapable, concrete reality. There is absolutely nothing hand-wavy about it. You and every living thing on this planet are an assembly of tiny, self replicating machines, running on DNA.

You share upwards of 99% of your DNA with every one of the 9/11 hijackers, Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Jesus Christ and Mohammed.

I was weeding the flower bed in my front yard a few weeks ago. I had really let it go, and the Bermuda grass from the lawn had creeped under the little divider and was growing up through the mulch. As I started pulling blades of grass, I noticed that I was merely tugging at an incredibly dense mesh of roots that permeated the entire garden.

This is the picture of humanity that I'll try to hold in my mind today, as I tune in to the first big NFL Sunday of the season. It's sure to be full of tear-jerky 9/11 remembrances, filled to the brim with the usual "us versus them" subtext.

It's been 10 years. Maybe we should not only "never forget" what happened that day, but also never forget what has happened since. If you don't believe the terrorists have won, you haven't been paying attention. We were always capable of destroying ourselves, and all those jackasses had to do was give us an excuse.

If only it was so simple to give us an excuse to love one another, to build, to give with open hearts, to make a future together, rather than separate.

As for the track, it's an oldie. In fact it is the third track I ever did and posted to the internet, way back, if you can believe it, in January 2007 using only GarageBand and duct tape. That's almost 5 years ago. As old as it is, that's still 6 years after 9/11.

It's about race, but ultimately it's about divisions between people, and the senselessness of focusing on those divisions and fighting over them. It seemed sort of appropriate for the day, to me.

As promised last week: more crickets. That's Ms. Vybe spittin' mad knowledge on the raps

Monday, September 5, 2011

We Could Do Anything

We Could Do Anything

our dreams would light the sky ablaze ...
"Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam ..." - The Impressive Clergyman

Kelly and I got married in 1998. I can't believe how thin I was back then. Life and Kelly's cooking have been too kind to me, to say the least.

In 2008, we celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. By then, my musical hobby had grown beyond simply making beats and remixing / mashing up vocals from the internet. I had bought myself a guitar. Bill had given me a beat up microphone and I intended to use it (an old SM-57 which is still one of my favorites). I even had some drum pads (actual drums would come later).

That year, I wrote Kelly a song for our anniversary. You, my internet friend, will never hear that song.

It was heartfelt, it was sincere, it was blessedly short, and it was awful. Though it did get me laid. But then it was our 10th anniversary, and we were headed to a ritzy hotel in Nashville for the weekend. The odds were kind of in my favor.

The experience of writing that song, the experience of Kelly telling me over and over again how much she loved it, and the experience of being immersed in the heart of Music City for the weekend took my desire to write songs and record them and planted it in concrete footers a mile deep.

I was gonna do this stuff because I loved it and I didn't give a damn if anyone else in the world liked it or not.

Actually that's pretty much still my attitude about it. Though like anything, it's more fun when you do it well and people actually do like it. What you're listening to is the song from the following year's anniversary in 2009. I'd gotten a little better at it by then.

It's still a little rough ... a lot rough. It's too short, there should be more lyrics, the auto-tune was unnecessary (but at the time it still seemed like a "fresh" effect), the song structure is a little random. The drums are so electronic, they don't groove at all. The inexplicable crickets (I have a thing for crickets ... which I will explore further in next week's post).

All that being the case, I'm still damn proud of it. That's me exhibiting the absolute limit of my musical capabilities circa 2009 and really putting my heart into it.