Lojo's Proze & Mr Boo's Newz

Thursday, September 19, 2013

I can walk under ladders



Last Friday I played a wedding. That’s right, on Friday – The 13th – I played a wedding.  And I gotta say it was probably one of the most memorable weddings I’ve played.  

The Bride and Groom took advantage of the day and went all out; broken glass, runes and fortune cookies on the tables, pennies on the floor, open umbrellas inside the reception room to receive cards, black cats and crows (stuffed toys) scattered about, a Ouija board printed on the cake, Voo-Doo dolls as party favors and the Bride had a spider pinned to her dress.  For me the pi├Ęce de resistance was the two black ladders that were decorated like some Gothic chuppah which they walked under after exchanging vows.

That evening I also did something I’ve never done as a solo performer – played the reception.  The Bride had suggested a few ‘theme’ songs and gave me the go-ahead to fill-in the rest of the sets on my own.  The set list included songs like Abra-Ca-Dabra, Superstitious, Love Potion #9,  That Ol’ Black Magic,  Bad Luck, Every Little Thing She Does is Magic, and this rocking swamp tune called, Marie LaVeau.  I even threw in a few of my own like, Lucky Day and Carnival Ride.  The repertoire was creepy and fun for one exception - a request of the Bride - which threw me for a loop – Love Will Keep Us Together, by Captain and Tenille. (One of these things is not like the other…  It could've been worse. I could've been, Muscrat Love.)

It was a magical evening and they are a enchanting couple and I felt very lucky to be a part of their charmed celebration.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Magic happens



A garden party with friends gathered on a beautiful late summer evening.  Tamara was our hostess transforming her backyard to a wonderland of food, drink, glowing lights, bright baubles and butterflies.  (Don’t ask me how she got the butterflies – just part of the magic, I guess.)  

One could almost see the energy that flowed through and around us.  It was created by our easy laughter, memories shared and relived, thoughtful embraces, small outbursts of surprise and joyful recognition and quiet reminiscences of those who were not present.  

A simple lamp was my spotlight.  And within its small circle of light all was illuminated - all the emotion, energy, love and friendship that stood within the borders of that yard.  

The music was playful, inspired, solemn, enthusiastic and flowed easily.  It came from my heart and flowed into the hearts of those around me.  In that connection I could feel everyone being a part of the music.  



The end of the evening found us gathered in a smaller circle of candlelight – an intimate setting for more intimate music as we all moved closer together to create a quiet, enchanted space for the music.  Joined by Ray on guitar, Eric on mandolin, Dayna lending her beautiful voice and everyone joining in on choruses we were all part of the spell that was cast by the music.

On nights like this the music is more than just notes and sounds and words – it’s magic.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Pins and needles…



Pins and needles would be a blessing compared to what I’m sitting on waiting for the final bits and bobs of this album to be completed.

Last week my engineer dropped off the mixes to Doug who will “master” the album.  Doug is the best in the business - his job is to… well, I’m not really sure of all he does but I do know that the album sounds even better when he’s done.  Last Friday I met with the art director to go over the last minute additions and revisions to the album design and layout. Then, yesterday I spoke with the t-shirt guy to discuss shirt brands and printing methods.  The copyright has been secured for those songs that I wrote and today I will obtain licenses for the ones I did not write. Later this week I will also order the other sundry items that were promised to my contributors. 

Then on Thursday – if all goes according to plans (wait… I had a plan?!) I will pick up the “Master” copy from Doug, get the final artwork from Jennell and send it all off to the manufacturer for duplication. Gulp.

You have all been very patient and I very much appreciate it.  Good intentions and all I thought you’d have your album by now – and I apologize that you do not.  However, I’m not sorry that I and my production team have put in as much time and energy as we have for this album because the end product is going to be so much better than I could’ve imagined.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Studio notes...con't

Done.

The album is in the proverbial “can”. An old-fashioned expression (somewhat appropriate given my predilection to referring to it as an “album”) for an old-fashioned album full of old-fashioned music.

I must admit I found myself, on more than one occasion, performing dance style’s that were popular in the 60’s; the Twist, the Mashed Potato, and even a subdued Bob Fossy-ish mincing about.  Which may be indicative to what we’ve created over these last few months.

As we listened to the final cut getting mixed I couldn't help but hear the pop-ish folk/roots rock of the 60s and 70s.  The songs overall are an amalgam of genre’s, some old and familiar, some new and untested, some twisted and reformed into a piece that I could not recognize when I first wrote the song.

Whatever it is that has been wrought twixt the artist and the digital canvas it’s safe to say I’m diggin’ the hell out of it.

I have thanked all of you for your support of this project and now it’s time to thank the people who made it come to life like I never could.

Adam Stemple – my good friend and co-producer of this album. His experience, attention to detail and keen sense of what sounds good and what doesn’t was an indispensable asset and testament to how good an album can be if you have the right people.

Leo Whitebird – a man I’ve known for many years and who I now can count as a true friend.  I’ve worked on side projects with Leo in the past and knew him to be an engineer in every sense of the word. Leo was the gear piece that kept Adam and I moving ever forward. He really knows what he’s doing and I couldn’t have done it without him.

Jennell Bergwall – she has been the architect of the visual aspect of this project to help focus and meld what one see’s to what one hears.  She’s been a good friend to me these past few years in building my website and creating the album art for this and my last album.

Through it all these people have shown me patience, assistance, reason, thoughtfulness and above all proved that they are just as vested in creating a solid, powerful work of art as I am.

Now begins the myriad and sometimes tedious tiny details that go into post-production.  I shan’t boor you with the details but suffice it to say we’re not out of the woods yet but I can see the sunshine thru the trees.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Studio Notes

There are so many elements to putting together an album that many people aren’t aware of – sure there’s the usual; record the tracks, fix the tracks, mix the tracks, get the tracks to the CD manufacturer.  Then there’s all the incidentals in between; coordinating the musicians (much like herding cats), making sure you have all the paperwork ready for the days session, running to Dulono’s for the lunch break pizza, recording a last minute track because we’ve decided the song needs more cowbell while we were mixing, writing down thoughts for the liner notes and subsequently trying to track down the odd pieces of paper on which those dubious and ingenious thoughts were recorded.

Over the last few weeks I’ve made my 12 hour round-trip journey from Davenport, IA to Minneapolis, MN and back again. This in and of itself was more than I had quite imagined. As a working musician I had not anticipated how much time I wouldn’t have to make this journey. Between my students (I now teach guitar) and my gigs my time is very precious and I’ve been doing my best to use it as wisely as possible – 1 day here, 3 days there is how it’s been going.
If not for the support of my producer/friend, Adam, and my director/friend, Jennell, and my rock/girlfriend, Susan – I’m pretty sure my head would have spun off on its own trajectory weeks ago.


That being said – we’re moving this project along fairly nicely and the end is in sight! Or is that within hearing distance ;)There are so many elements to putting together an album that many people aren't aware of – sure there’s the usual; record the tracks, fix the tracks, mix the tracks, get the tracks to the CD manufacturer.  Then there’s all the incidentals in between; coordinating the musicians (much like herding cats), making sure you have all the paperwork ready for the days session, running to Dulono’s for the lunch break pizza, recording a last minute track because we've decided the song needs more cowbell while we were mixing, writing down thoughts for the liner notes and subsequently trying to track down the odd pieces of paper on which those dubious and ingenious thoughts were recorded.

Over the last few weeks I've made my 12 hour round-trip journey from Davenport, IA to Minneapolis, MN and back again. This in and of itself was more than I had quite imagined. As a working musician I had not anticipated how much time I wouldn't have to make this journey. Between my students (I now teach guitar) and my gigs my time is very precious and I've been doing my best to use it as wisely as possible – 1 day here, 3 days there is how it’s been going.
If not for the support of my producer/friend, Adam, and my art director/friend, Jennell, and my rock/girlfriend, Susan – I’m pretty sure my head would have spun off on its own trajectory weeks ago.
That being said – we’re moving this project along fairly nicely and the end is in sight...or, should I say - within hearing distance ;)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Is it any wonder...

Lately there’s been such wonder in the news; the dog found under the debris just feet away from where its owner was telling the reporter how heartbroken she was that she’d lost her dog during the tornado, a woman discovered 17 days after an earthquake had shook a building down onto her, the newborn rescued from the inside of a sewer drain.

It’s a wonder we survive at all sometimes. 

The resilience of humankind to withstand such powerful measures lodged against us is quite mind-boggling.  Whether it is the simple bond between human and animal,  the voice of faith from within that whispers, ‘never give up’, the respect for life that puts us to action to help one another – this human resilience is truly awesome.


I guess… it’s really no wonder at all.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Words of Thanks



If this is your first time reading my blog I’m about to attempt to thank all the amazing, wonderful, supportive, loving, people with whom I seem to have surrounded myself.  These people gave of their time, energy and/or financial support during my crowd fund-raising campaign.  It was truly mind-blowing just how many of them came together to help with this project.  

As a writer you’d think I’d have better words to express how I feel about these individuals but that opening line shows how inadequate simple words can be.  Instead, let me describe for you what my friends mean to me; 

They are like the warmth of an tender embrace, a trusting hand that firmly holds mine and leads me into adventure, a gentle phrase that lifts the spirit and stops my heart for just a beat or two. They are like the kind of laughter that can only start at the bottom of one’s tummy,  that feeling of knowing that if you fall they will catch you.  My friends are like a private joke that makes me smile out loud just thinking about it or like a secret – special, sacred - that I hold close and wish to keep all to myself.  

My friends are all of these things.  And I can’t thank them enough.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

The Story of ‘No Scars, No Stories’



Chapter Two:

So, here I was with a new idea, a new concept and a new direction for my writing.  That’s when the other shoe dropped.  

If you’ve been following this blog you’ll know that almost a year ago I lost a good friend.  I’m not going to review and rehash all that went down last summer (you are welcome to read about it in my archives)  but what I will say is the direction of my writing turned again.  What surprised me was the breadth of the writing – from empowering to imploding.  

When I stopped to think about the phrase “no scars, no stories” it was easy to imagine all the horrible things that can happen to someone that can leave a scar.  Then I remembered all the fun that Michael had together over the course of his life.  I remembered my time in Ireland and the joy I felt in finding the exact guitar with the exact sound.  

Scars are formed for many reasons.  Maybe you got your scar from doing something you love and landing on your ass.  Maybe you got your scar from living thru pain and coming out the other side in a better place.  The thing about scars is they are only there to serve as a bookmark, our own little piece of living history.
 
It’s when we have the faith and the humility to share our stories that our scars heal. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Story of ‘No Scars, No Stories’



Chapter One:
When I started this project it was gong to be called, “Layin’ Down Roots”.  I had been trying to write a number of songs the last few years and many seemed to be dealing with my journey, my history, my future – and none of them were getting finished.

Then, one day my Ireland guitar fell over in it’s stand and broke… practically in half…at a show…in the middle of the first song.  

I was devastated.  I was beside myself.  I was a wreck.  

When I got home The Girlfriend and our friend, Kim, were there to console me.  I weeped and wailed and raged against the winds that blew – I would not be easily consoled.  Then Kim looked at my guitar and looked me and said, “Well, no scars, no stories.” 
[Short pause for stunned silence.]  And I knew she was right.

The guitar would be fixed and it would be stronger than before – though never quite the same.  And the scar that runs along the face of her headstock will be the reminder of that day (and to keep my guitar’s in their case when playing a windy show).

Monday, February 11, 2013

No turning back...


A couple of weeks ago I was up in Minneapolis to lay down some guitar tracks for the new album.

It’s been awhile since I’ve been in studio and I was very happy with what we accomplished.  So far things are sounding great if I do say so myself…and so does my producer.  That’s the thing – this time around I’m using a producer.

First day in studio was so successful that we didn’t need a second so I kept myself busy with the usual 'find-a-gig-be-a-rockstar' business.  The rest of the week was punctuated by gathering with friends to play a rousing game of Cards Against Humanity, enjoying the company of my hosts, John and Karrin and going on a dog walk with my friend Sue D. and my dog Willow then topping it all off with one helluva great show at Merlin’s Rest.  I can’t thank everyone enough for showing up on such a cold, friggin’ night to share in a little drink and song – ThankYou!ThankYou!ThankYou!

I arrived to Minneapolis in a literal fog and left on a bright, crisp winter day.  How apropos.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

in the meantime...

Last night I had an incredible night playing music at The Precinct in Sterling, IL.  The crowd was very interactive and invested which always makes for a good night. The after-party jam was a bit of alright, as well.

Now, I'm sitting in a small but wonderful little coffee/bookshop in Dixon, IL trying to get some work done while listening to, "Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me" and I'm having a little trouble getting things done.

You know, I used to be really good at this multi-tasking thing.  But I find trying to listen to the program while searching for gigs in Wyoming while working out the logistics of a tour to the West coast while making notes for my producer about the new album while thinking about re-visions to a half-finished song while creating a blog pos...

oh. I get it, now.

[[head down...nose to grindstone]]






Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Old & New


Yuletide…   Check.
New Year… Check.
Liver Inflamed…   Check.

And well worth it, too.  I rang in the New Year with friends – as it should be – and spent a little time reminiscing of my friends back in Minnesota. 

I recalled the days of auld  when… 

**queue dream sequence squiggles and harp runs**

During the yuletide a gang of us wouldst traipse about in garish garb and beg sweets and coin from the local gentry. Mumming, we called it.  (Much like caroling only with a play rather than a song.)  And we had quite a grand time of it too.

Masquerades at New Year’s Eve with wine and song and games all leading up to a kiss from your sweetie (or, perhaps borrowing another’s sweetie for the moment) and removing our masks to discover the Dark Man at the last stroke.  Then we would resume the singing and dancing and carrying-on until the wee hours.

Yes, I know I sound like a promotion for some PBS Masterpiece Classic but that’s the way of it when a good number of your friends are thespians and Renaissance Festival re-enactors.
And, a great lot of fun they are!

**end dream sequence squiggles and harp run in reverse**

My, how traditions have changed a bit since those days. 

I no longer play in a mumming group – though I’ve thought it might be time to see if I can find a few lively souls who might want to chance incarceration for showing up on doorsteps in masks and begging. 

And, for the last 2 years a small group of us have started a new tradition of renting a house in the Galena Territories then making our boisterous, somewhat inebriated and rather comical way from local tavern to local tavern on New Year’s Eve EVE.  (With a small break for music…provided by me at one of aforementioned taverns.)  Thus avoiding the much more crowded and dangerous traditional Eve night.  Then on New Year’s Eve day we have all day to sit around nursing our hangovers, watching football, playing board games, grazing on enough food to feed a small nation and falling asleep well before the “ball” has dropped in NYC (11:00PM CST)

Out with the auld and in with the new?  Well, yes and no.  It is always exciting to create new traditions, but that doesn’t mean I will ever stop my tradition of remembering ALL of my friends and our fine times together.