Memory Lane (demo)

· Layers of Meta, Memory Lane, Music, Musicology, Songs for Beginners

Once I feel a song is written I try to record a demo without getting too hung up on the instrumentation or even the full arrangement, to help communicate to other musicians primarily how the song goes.

This one has a lyric shared with me as part of a large set of song lyrics around 2010, or possibly earlier, by my old old friend, brother, and aspirational writing partner Peter K. Hirsch.

I could hear in my head how it should go but at the time did not have the chops to harmonize it, let alone figure out a way to play the bridge.

Now, I’m hoping to include it on my forthcoming album:

“Feeling the joy and the pain…”

Most of the time I’m a peaceful man

· Musicology, Nesbitt's Lime Soda, Songs for Beginners, The Reuben Kincaid

[desaturated image of a Nesbitt's Orange Soda bottle label]Over the last few years the Kincaids have messed around with quite a few cover songs. Some we adopt into our core repertoire, such as it is (as with Chilton’s “I’m in Love with a Girl” or Reed’s “Satellite of Love”). Others we toy with for a week or three and then forget again (too many to mention).

Back in early ’10 we decided to try the one real song song from Negativland’s class Escape from Noise LP (that’s what we used to call a vinyl record, kids).

We had a lot of fun with it, playing the tune at various tempos, eventually stretching it out into an odd Grateful Dead meets Velvet Underground space. As if often the case, the penultimate take was really the best one.

On this one Cecil Dan is on bass and Rev Bill is on the acoustic guitar. I’m on electric uke and lead vocals. Dan and Bill sing backups. I like to dedicate this one to B, who’s name is often misspelled in the way of the soda*.

Nesbitt’s Lime Soda

* Speaking of which, there doesn’t seem to be a Nesbitt’s Lime Soda, although there appears to be, or to have been, a Nesbitt’s Lemon-Lime at some point.

Bringing the rain

· Musicology, The Reuben Kincaid

Earlier this year I was in New York on business so of course I spent some time hanging out with my brother, codename “xourmas.” (We have a little duo when we play together called the Power & Mighty.)

He taught me a few cover tunes he had been working on over the past little while, and soon afterward I was back home in Cali rehearsing with the Kincaid and I introduced those two tunes to the band.

The first one is a tune by an obscure band called the Greenhornes called “There is an End.” The second is a classic psychedelic lovesong by the German band Can, called “She Brings the Rain.” The former has a lyric in it that goes “Spring brings the rain,” so I’ve always associated the two songs. (One other I’d also associate with these is Morphine’s “You Look Like Rain” – another one I’d like to learn some day.)

Anyway, TRK quickly recorded a few live takes of both songs and a few of them came out pretty well. We’ve gradually been putting up our carefully recorded studio cuts on our new Bandcamp site, but I can’t resist sharing these more off-the-cuff live demo takes, so here are a few more for our multitudes of fans:

(I consider these two recordings to constitute an EP that I call “Tribute to Xourmas.”)


This ain’t no cocktail you buy in a bar

· Music, Musicology, Songs for Beginners, The Reuben Kincaid, ukulele stories

One of the songs I’ve been playing the longest with the Reuben Kincaid is an original by Cecil Vortex about prison booze called “Pruno.”

In fact, before the Kincaid even got together Pruno was one of the first tunes Cecil taught me and that we played together, and it was one of the first songs I recorded myself playing with Cecil, when I started to get the idea that this playing music together thing is actually pretty cool. At the time we were playing it on piano and uke but not TRK plays it in our current power trio format, with Cecil on guitar (sometimes acoustic, sometimes electric), the Reverend So-Called Bill on bass, and myself on ukulele, of course. Vocals on the “I don’t want to be right” chorus by hillbilly leprechaun Shmuey, who would himself never make or consume pruno.

Over the last few years we’ve played the song scores of times, usually with some major or minor flubs. The version I’m posting today is done in the slow epic/anthem mode, and has its share of clams, but is also a fairly representative demo of how we play “Pruno” today:

Pruno (demo)

UPDATE: Shared with the gracious permission of Cecil Vortex!

Tomorrow’s the day my bride’s a-gonna come

· Musicology, Songs for Beginners, You Ain't Goin' Nowhere

I’ve been messing around with the Bob Dylan song “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere,” which was popularized by the Byrds, among others. Six years ago I posted some vocal and baritone uke musings to this blog and promptly forgot about it. Then the Reuben Kincaid started jamming together and we broke this song out once or twice. (It’s only got three chords and the verses and choruses are the same so it’s, uh… kind of easy to play.)

When the time came for my scary stage debut as Cheeses & Tequila with Bill DeRouchey at Ukepalooza, I dragged it out of my memory banks for our frantic rehearsal and sessions and this ended up being one of the songs we played in our set.

Recently, while one of the members of the Kincaid was gallivanting halfway around the globe, the Right Reverend “So-Called” Bill and I got together for a duo rehearsal, Bill on acoustic guitar and myself on my trusty electrified ukulele, and among other things we played this song.

Now, after I played in Portland with Other Bill, my old friend Levi Asher dropped me a note complimenting me on choosing to sing that particular version of the lyrics. It happened to be the one I was more familiar with at the time, and that’s the first version So-Called Bill and I improvised.

What’s strange to me now is that I distinctly remember that Levi used to quote the lyrics “strap yourself to a tree with roots” in one of his email sigs of yore, and that’s from the other well known version of the song. I can never keep straight which one came first.

Well, Bill also expected more lyrics so I found the other version and we played that one too. Bill demurred when I suggested a guitar solo, so I take all five solos (two in the first version and three in the second) with varying degrees of success and ability to resolve a phrase in time for the next verse.

Given that every ensemble has to have a name, Bill and I have dubbed ourselves Bacon ‘n’ Biscuit for the purposes of our duo excursions, so without further ado, I give you two versions of You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere, performed by Bacon ‘n’ Biscuit live in the studio:

You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere (three-verse version)

You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere (four-verse version)

I must admit I felt a little uneasy

· Musicology, Songs for Beginners, Tangled Up in Blue

tiled up, not blueSometime last year I was messing with the changes to “Tangled Up in Blue” by Bob Dylan and worked out a somewhat comfortable way to play it on the ukulele.

I put down a basic rhythm track with a little bit of fingerpicking on it, doubled it (there are, like, nine verses) and then sang over it. The result is the sort of demo I make to show other people how I’m playing the song and to possibly use as a sort of stone-soup scratch track to be overdubbed into oblivion.

But life has its own ideas and other songs have pushed this aside in my active practice repertoire and yet I still feel kind of good about this very loose take and so I’ve decided to share it here.

Tangled Up in Blue