Archive for September, 2009

Progress

Monday, September 21st, 2009

The Studio

Where we rehearse at my place - a sort of a warehouse space where we don't have to worry about noise.

The rehearsals right now are just with John Timmins and myself so we have guitar, slide guitar on an old Harmony, banjo, and you will see on the floor a little Zoom recording device that is proving to be very useful.  Also if you look carefully to the left of the guitar facing you on the couch you will see one of the many uses of duct tape, if your dog likes to chew. She’s pretty good now – most of that happened when I first got her.

Right now I am into doing something I have never been able to do just with the piano – sort of a blues style with no chord changes, just staying within the root chord, relying completely on feel, rhythm, and interpretation. In the show at The Dakota on Oct. 29th, John T. and I will be doing a song of my own in this style (much learned from Robert Johnson), using the little cigarbox guitar and bottle slide.  There is no piano on this one at all which is really new for me.  John T. is as much of a feel player as I am so we can do it.

Waits and Dylan

Robert Johnson, Waits and Dylan

I am arranging it for both of us to do vocals and it has a real emotional edge to it. It’s oddly complicated within the one root chord feel – it can collapse as soon as any of the key elements go a bit awry. Plus in the same vein we are arranging a hillbilly traditional tune that Dylan covered at one time.

I decided when I started my album a little more than a year ago that the missing link in my music was the banjo and I started hearing banjo lines in my sleep.  The banjo is the most incredibly emotive instrument – whacky, sad, bizarre.  I adore it.  I loved it so much that on my holidays from work I rented one and felt certain that I could play it since I could already hear it so clearly. It took about five minutes to realize that this would not be the case unless I had a similar experience to Robert Johnsons’ where he sold his soul to the devil, disappeared for a while and came back a genius guitar player.

So instead, I found John T. who can play like I wish I could. John uses an open D tuning on the Dyaln tune and there are again no chord changes – all feel and dynamic.  I am arranging this with duo vocals – I think we have a really interesting vocal thing happening.  Don’t think you’ll hear anybody else quite like it and it’s a lot of fun for me as I have always before sung alone.  It’s a real stylistic growth that is adding a lot of interest to things for me. We are also covering a Tom Waits song in an unconventional manner – Tom remains the single most important influence on me – it’s a huge pleasure to cover two of his songs in the next show.

Hope to see you there.

Work In Progress

Work In Progress

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