Here we are, kids…wrapping up yet another calendar year on planet Earth. The U.S. presidential election took place and the world didn't end the next morning, so there's that to be thankful for.
We at TGA Inc. have managed to get just shy of 50 shows under our belt for 2016, and actually make a little coin along the way…even if it kept us from putting together what I consider to be a somewhat overdue new album. We DID however make great strides recently in finishing up work on the covers EP that we've been yapping about for the better part of the past 12 months, so that's really just around the corner at long last. We're just a vocal session and some mixing away from adding that to our official discography, and I swear it'll be worth the wait, honest.
My solo record 'An Overnight Low'; on the other hand, is out and available from various retailers of both physical and digital media, as well as all the oft-maligned streaming content providers. Do me(and yourself, of course) a favor, and gift yourself a copy or two of this future classic. My mom says she likes it, and a couple of other folks I'm not even related to had similarly kind words on the subject. For instance…
"Written and produced by Smith himself, An Overnight Low shows the singer-songwriter in a new light from his previous band efforts. The gorgeous “Leaving L.A.” is a cinematic love letter to the City of Angels, while the infectious “Hard Stop” is the kind of romantic rocker made for blasting from rooftops and car windows when needing a break away from the insanity of the world.
For those not yet familiar with Denny Smith, his style can best be described as a stirring fusion of Tom Petty and Jon Bon Jovi, with a dash of the Stereophonics’ Kelly Jones. For fans of the aforementioned, An Overnight Low is the album you didn’t know you’ve been impatiently awaiting."
"Silver Lining" opens the album in fine fashion with just the right dose of melancholy to go along with a winning melody, while the more uptempo "Hard Stop" finds the golden mean between Butch Walker and The Gin Blossoms. "All in the Livin'" is an upbeat, acoustic number that's quite ingratiating, and the power ballad "Missing You" is another delight.
…and here's a LINK to an interview that accompanies that PopMartZoo review, where I discuss the motivation for making the record, and what actually went into getting it done, among other things.
Back to The Great Affairs though, we're about to sign off on road work until 2017, but we've got a handful of dates to get through before we declare ourselves officially on vacation, starting with a pair of Georgia shows this weekend, and closing out with stops at two of our favorite venues in Illinois and Kentucky the next. From there, we take a brief hiatus to do things of the festive nature, and then get back to work on material for what will hopefully assume the form of album #6.
Here are the specs on those dates:
FRI, DEC 2ND THE LOFT COLUMBUS, GA 9PM
SAT, DEC 3RD THE HUMMINGBIRD MACON, GA 10:30 PM(w/Ninehorn)
FRI, DEC 9TH JOHN BROWN'S ON THE SQUARE MARION, IL 9PM
SAT, DEC 10TH THE CROWDED HOUSE MADISONVILLE, KY 8:30PM
I'd like to say thanks to everyone that came out to The High Watt in Nashville on Tuesday night too. I know we don't play in town much, and we'll try to rectify that over the next few months. It was great to see some faces we hadn't seen in a while, and not have a 300 mile drive to look forward to after load-out. In addition to restful sleep in our own beds, we got to begin the process of testing out some next-time contenders by debuting "Back To Boston", and that's something we'll probably continue to do moving forward, in an effort to weed out any duds we might have become unnecessarily attached to by virtue of personal bias, so please let us know what you think of these new offerings as they materialize. You might save us the costly embarrassment of committing an aberration to tape.
I'm gonna go listen to some Journey and re-string my Telecaster now. You folks be good to each other.
Loverboy's 'Get Lucky' is on the turntable as I type this, and that seems pretty appropriate, since I feel pretty damn fortunate to have had so many of you fine folks snatch up copies of my new solo record the minute it became available a couple of weeks back.
I'm not gonna lie, there was tremendous sense of trepidation, and some pretty severe anxiety attached to tackling a long-player without my merry band of cohorts in tow.
Budget concerns? You bet. Instead of doing a slew of shows, and socking away a percentage of the dough generated to cover the costs of studio time and all the other attendant costs associated with the production of a full-length album, I was gonna have to ante up my own coin to get this thing from zygote to actual hatchling. Not being independently wealthy, this was a hurdle… I'm still attempting to clear it, and probably will be for a while.
Possibly apathetic response to the whole concept? Sure. All I can do is round up the material I feel best represents me in this present day & age, songs that resonate with me right NOW, and hope the sincerity inherent in the ones I personally have the most attachment to is undeniably evident. I mean, let's face it, if you're a decent enough craftsman, it's pretty easy to string together a bunch of things that might find favor with people keen on past efforts, but as much as you may be pleasing those who crave their familiar flavors, if you've already served that dish a handful of times or more, you'd think it would be time to change the menu a bit. Sadly, this is a notion that occasionally backfires…or at the very least goes unappreciated by a few people who would probably rather the seasons didn't change either. I myself embrace a little evolution now and then, and generally approve when something changes from album to album besides the cover art. As such, I took a few liberties with this release, seeing as I only had myself to answer to.
The fact of the matter is, for every brief stretch of smooth sailing in the preceding year or so, there have been leagues of choppy water that threatened to upend the otherwise sturdy vessel I call my mind. A lot of the time I wondered if I was being tested, or just being jerked around for the amusement of some higher power. I'll probably never know, but it really doesn't matter to me since I'm still here, and I got a bunch of songs out of the deal that I really love, songs that hopefully some other folks will find a kinship with or solace in too.
OK then, with all that worry and confessional blather exorcised like so much pea soup, or a bladder on the rug, let's get to the business.
The album is available NOW on CD. Get it HERE!
or PRE-order it from iTunes and get it on Friday (11/4)
If you're worried that you might be one of those people that only eats cheeseburgers, and won't even think about sushi, here's a link to stream the whole thing in its entirety, so you can find out just what it is you MIGHT be missing.
Once you've satisfied your curiosity, and likely spent a modest sum, we can proceed with business regarding my day gig The Great Affairs, and our return to the live stage, right here in scenic downtown Nashville, TN, where we'll be supporting our good friends Stone Senate on Tuesday, November 29th at The High Watt(above Mercy Lounge/The Cannery Ballroom). This is a FREE show, and it kicks off early, so can come straight from work if you'd like. Doors are at 6:30, and we should be striking our initial downbeat at 7PM, followed by the SS boys around 8 or thereabouts. It's a party, so wear shiny shoes, and do your hair for once. Stuff like that pays off.
Oh yeah, and for everyone who's wondering whatever happened to that EP of covers we've been promising for the better part of a year now….well, it's almost done. We've booked The Switchyard for November 18th & 19th to get in there and wrap that nonsense up, so we can hopefully have it out shortly thereafter. 'Six Pack' is the name, and it's gonna feature our take on tunes from Thin Lizzy, Don Henley, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Cheap Trick, Fleetwood Mac, and Enuff Z'Nuff. One was a hit, and the rest should've been.
OK then…gotta run, but here's what's on the books beyond November, and what look to be our last shows for 2016:
FRI, DEC 2ND THE LOFT COLUMBUS, GA 9PM
SAT, DEC 3RD THE HUMMINGBIRD MACON, GA 10PM
FRI, DEC 9TH JOHN BROWN'S ON THE SQUARE MARION, IL 9PM
SAT, DEC 10TH THE CROWDED HOUSE MADISONVILLE, KY 8:30PM
It's the first of the month, and that means it's time for me to tell you all what I know you've been dying to hear….yes, it's jacket weather. Oh yeah, and my solo record has a release date of October 21st.
I felt those should be divulged in order of importance.
Truthfully though, I'm extremely proud of this album…like, way f#cking proud. It has far exceeded my initial expectations. I got a lot off my chest with this batch of songs, and it feels great.
But enough blathering….
Now, regarding that October 21st release date, it only applies to the physical version of 'An Overnight Low'. The digital release is actually scheduled for November 4th, so if you want it ASAP, you might wanna grab it at this link right here
> PRE-ORDER AN OVERNIGHT LOW <
Heck, depending on how quickly the first pressing gets turned around, you might see it a little sooner.
If you haven't already caught wind of the 2 or 3 preview tracks floating around, here are a couple of those to hopefully whet your appetite.
While I'm tending to the business of getting these things packaged and out to both consumers and critics alike, The Great Affairs are beginning work on some new material as well. Fresh from our recent run through Illinois, we've been hammering together the various bits & pieces of music that might conceivably constitute a new LP down the road. I know I'm sitting on a sizable grip of tunes, and Kenny has a few at the ready himself, so along with contributions from Mr. Miller that we've recently become acquainted with, there should be no dearth of adequate strummery and riffage.
The task of whipping these compositions into album-ready shape however is fairly time-consuming, so for anyone noticing that our schedule is a considerable bit lighter than usual over the next couple of months, there's your answer. We've gotta hunker down some on this stuff, because I believe the plan for this next trip to the studio involves us cutting most of the record live, allowing very little margin for error. In other words, we've gotta have our sh#t together, and the gathering of said sh#t is a pretty labor-intensive undertaking, so please pardon our momentary absence. Thank you for understanding.
OK then, well, I guess that's about it for the time being…other than a single solo acoustic show from me in Delavan, IL on October 22nd, we are off the radar until December, when we'll wrap up 2016 with a few dates in GA, KY, and IL, before doing our standard scattering for Xmas. Of course, as always, things tend to change, so you never know what might pop up on the calendar between now and then….personally, I've got my fingers crossed for a cool local show, but the manifestation of that wishful thinking remains to be seen.
Be good to each other,
The Great Affairs
Captain's Log, Stardate 8/30/2016 5:02PM
It is the eve of what I hope to be the final day of tracking on my first solo opus, which I have now officially dubbed "An Overnight Low", 12 songs, running the gamut from bare bones acoustic balladry, to full-blown riffage, and everything in between that felt deserving of a place in this particular collection. I'm already pretty stoked with the as-yet-unpolished results of our labor to date, and I think that while some of material may be a little left of center compared to my previous output, it should be a abundantly clear that I haven't abandoned my Rock or Pop roots in favor of a dalliance with Progressive Metal or any such similar nonsense. I simply rounded up the best players I could cajole into doing my bidding, and threw what I had at 'em. They spun that raw goodness into gold, at least as far as I'm concerned, and all we've left to do now is polish it up.
But first, a bit about the players…..
Me, I played the guitars…well, 99% of them…just not the slide parts, because I play slide about as well as I play basketball, and I play basketball about as well as I imagine Billy Barty did. I sang, played some keys and made loops….even arranged some strings here & there. I think I did alright for a musical illiterate.
Drums and bass on these tunes were handled by Criss Cheatham and Dave Webb; respectively, and both knocked their end of things completely out of the proverbial park. For never having met prior to their session, these two sound joined at the hip on this record.
Next up, a master of the ivories, Mr. Michael Webb added piano on a trio of pieces, including my personal favorite: "Fall To Me", which also features none other than our trusty engineer Michael Saint-Leon on some ridiculously tasty slide guitar.
Since my contract with The Great Affairs requires me to employ at least one member of the band on any solo release and he had the cheapest day rate, I chose to utilize Kenny Wright's talents on percussion, as well as Mandolin and Mandola. We'll be hammering out the last of those contributions during tomorrow's marathon session at The Switchyard, along with one more handful of vocal parts. From there, we begin the tedious process of looking for things that might need fixing, before getting into mix mode.
Speaking of THE GREAT AFFAIRS, we've been out and about for the last month, battling through my voice issues, and this stupid heatwave, to fly the flag across TN, KY, and Southern IL, starting with a return to the just-reopened John Brown's On The Square, where we learned firsthand of John's deep, deep love for Don Henley of The Eagles. It's a steadfast and enduring love that he went on about at great length, in a way that only JB can. He was remarkably candid with a packed house for being normally such a reserved, stoic man.
After that revelatory evening, I took a solo flight to Clarksville, where I participated in a "Songs & Stories" writer's round at Wicked Good Sandwiches. As ragged and uncooperative as my pipes were, it's always a good time when the Yates have you down to their place, and I got to give "My Father's Son", from the new record, it's first live airing. Another first was overhearing some guy call me "Bon Jovi's brother", but I just plucked that as a feather rather than a thorn and stuck it in my cap, seeing as ol' JBJ once dated Diane Lane, forever and always "the one that got away" for me, even if we've never met.(Diane, call me.)
A couple of sweltering, dehydration-defying outdoor shows in KY and Eastern TN followed, along with a return to the Woodbine Rocks series, after a seriously extended lapse in that semi-regular event's calendar. 6 bands, 5 songs each, and worth sticking around for from start to finish. After a long day in the studio, I figured I'd be toast after our set, but I couldn't bring myself to split until Easy Roscoe wrapped up theirs, because every band on that bill did their level best to burn the place to the ground. It was refreshing, and a much-needed reminder of what it's like to throw down in a low pressure environment, where nothing matters but the sweat and the beers. Goddamn it felt good!
So, with that, we take a few weeks off to let me rest my weary-but-(slowly)-rebounding cords, before we head north to play a double-header of IL shows, first in Chicago(specifically Libertyville) at Mickey Finn's on September 23rd, followed by Hubfest in Marion, IL on the 24th. We then resume a bit of a self-imposed hiatus from regular live activity, in order to apply ourselves to pre-production work on what will hopefully turn into the next TGA record. Songs in various stages of completion await our attention, and in order to give them what they deserve and need in order to evolve into worthy additions to our official canon, we require some time off to foster them. We'll still be playing sporadic shows along the way, but it's been nearly 2 years since we dropped "Dream In Stereo" on the world, and it feels like it might be time to follow that up with a new LP. Hopefully you folks are feeling that too.
See you soon,
p.s. Update. Captain's Log, Stardate 9/1/2016
Tracking on "An Overnight Low" has been deemed complete. Kenny arrived late in the afternoon yesterday, armed with his stringed instruments, a mallet, and a massive gong, which he employed on the album's closer "To Call This Home". More or less gliding through his parts, and doing a fairly convincing impersonation of a seasoned professional, I almost expected him to invoice me afterwards. Thankfully, he settled for splitting a 6 of Heineken with us.
The last of my vocals were cut earlier in the day, and Saint-Leon and I made a few adjustments and edits while in the midst of that work, so this thing is beginning to assume its ultimate shape at a pretty good clip now. The fate of the project rests in his hands at this point, but he seems up to the task, so I'm not sweating it….much.
If scheduling doesn't get in the way, I should be able to post a preview track in the next few days, so if you're at all curious about what we've been cooking up in the lab, keep your eyes and ears open for that.
OK then….that's really everything for right now, so Happy Barry Gibb's Birthday/Labor Day.
Folks, it's been an interesting patch of road traveled this past month. While a good deal of it was welcome, the mileage does tend to take its toll over time, resulting in certain wear & tear to the involved apparatus; in this case my voice, which decided it was going to take a leave of absence mid-show in Bowling Green, KY a couple of weeks ago.
Truthfully, I can't say I didn't see/feel it coming. Back in May, we did a really quick 3-day run through South Carolina, night #1 of which blessed us with an inept audio "engineer" who was knocking back shots at the bar before we even got a chance to soundcheck. Suffice it to say, the situation on stage, and I'm sure pouring out into the venue as well, was a mess. We did our best to push through the muck of gnarly frequencies, random squawks, and lifeless monitors for a couple of hours, before loading out and retiring to our hotel, where I began to feel the effects of screaming over blaring nonsense for 2 hours.
In the morning, I was still feeling it, but we trudged on to our radio interview, and the next venue, where thankfully we had two aces at the board, and the previous evening's unpleasantness was all but forgotten…well, save for the burning sensation in my throat that I figured would pass with a good night's sleep and a few yodels of "Ricola" from a SC mountaintop. I was mistaken, because; as previously recounted here at the time, my voice abandoned me entirely halfway into our set, with Kenny & Patrick(and even the venue manager for one tune) forced to cover lead vocals for the remainder of our allotted time with a slew of covers.
It was a long drive back to Nashville….and an even longer week spent hoarse and pissed off at a situation that was out of my control. Still, a little rest and we were back at it, with my pipes seemingly operating at whatever passes for capacity under optimum conditions. On occasion though, I would sense a little weakness in spots that hadn't previously been an issue for me, and I noticed I'd begun coughing up the dreaded "Peter Brady frog" with unusual frequency. Whatever, I'd do a shot of Fireball, and it was off to the races like nothing was amiss.
I was wrong, of course.
My faulty assessment was shot full of holes during a show in Evansville, IN a week after the battle of Bowling Green. Chugging water, eating lozenges all night like they were Skittles, and the company of some good folks from that neck of the woods got me through the show, but just barely, and my body was letting me know in no uncertain terms that I was pushing my luck. Like any injury, the ache was starting to spread, and I was hurting everywhere…I just couldn't figure out exactly why. Thankfully, I knew enough to listen to my gut, and we canned the next gig, which I guess didn't please the venue much, understandably, based upon the snarky reply to our agent's email….maybe their booking guy should've held my hand when they were scoping, X-raying and (most painfully I think) BILLING me at the ENT two days later.
…as it turns out, over the course of the past few months, I've managed to tear a couple of nerves in my throat and neck, while singing with one ear canal so inflamed that is was essentially closed, and that inflammation spread all down the left side of my neck, jaw, and behind my eye….but wait, like a set of Ginsu Knives, it doesn't stop there, I ALSO had diminished lung capacity due to some muscle issue brought on by this infection, necessitating one of the least fun(albeit briefest) medical procedures I've ever experienced. Top this off with a week's worth of steroids and antibiotics, and a sizable invoice, and you've got a guy that really wishes he'd stuck with those piano lessons at age 9.
But enough about me, let's talk about me. I did get some work done before, during, and after this crisis. In fact, all the basic tracking for my solo record is complete. Drums, bass, and 99% of the guitars are laid down and sounding spectacular. There's still a generous amount of effort yet to be applied, particularly vocals on all 12 tracks, piano & pedal steel, and finally a little percussion & various odd instrumentation throughout. I plan to start singing this week, assuming my voice is in good enough shape to tackle the task, after shows in Madisonville, and Somerset, KY the last two nights. I haven't yet investigated it thoroughly, but the meds and procedures made those two dates a hell of a lot easier to endure than the previous week's, so even if there are still a few no-fly zones in my range that clearly need time to heal, I'm optimistic that things are actually on the mend in there.
Voice or no voice, the "Go Mute Or Go Home" tour continues with a string of August shows that looks a little something like this, with of course the possibility of some last-minute additions to the slate…
Friday, August 5th @ John Browns On The Square Marion, IL
Wednesday, August 10th @ Wicked Good Sandwiches Clarksville, TN
(Songs & Stories Music Circle-Denny Solo acoustic)
Friday, August 12th @ Friday Night Live Madisonville, KY
Saturday, August 13th @ Hightops Somerset, KY
Thursday, August 18th @ Woodbine Rocks/Twin Kegs Nashville, TN
Friday, August 26th @ O'Mainnin's Bristol, TN
Saturday, August 27th @ Diamond Pub Louisville, KY
Our booking crew is still filling in some of the blanks for September, but we WILL finally be getting back up to Chicago, and Central Illinois as well, so for those of you who have been on us to swing through the Midwest, we're trying, honest.
I think that's about it….and yes, the covers EP is still under construction. I actually did some work on tracks for that early this morning, so rest assured that it will arrive at some point in the early 21st century. We've also narrowed down the first handful of tunes for the next TGA full-length, so we're about to start putting those together and sliding them into the live set to shake out.
If you made it this far, I applaud your tenacity, and I apologize for the epic nature of this update, but as my mom's favorite, and most-trusted periodical once said, "Enquiring minds want to know.".
June was a month that kept us guessing. It seemed like nothing went according to plan. Some things worked in our favor, while others forced us to scramble for cover and make hard decisions in order to accommodate adjustments to our trajectory.
In the end, I'd like to think we chose wisely, and no feelings were hurt so badly that they couldn't be assuaged at a later, makeup engagement. I guess we'll find out soon enough.
Here's how the shuffle shook out.
Our Dothan, Alabama date was scuttled at the last minute, due to a booking gaff between our agency and the promoter, so we took the hit, and left early for Georgia anyway, In an effort to bypass some hairy Bonnaroo traffic just south of Nashville.
After crashing for the night in Newnan, GA, we headed on to The Loft in Columbus, and had a show so good that I neglected to connect the trailer properly during load-out, yet still somehow managed to navigate the 100 miles or so back to our next accommodations without the aid of running/brake lights. Apparently somebody was looking after us, as Kenny & I obliviously argued the relative value of various Spencer Proffer productions(W.A.S.P, Quiet Riot, Kick Axe) for a couple of very fatigued hours. We really need to start taping a pre and/or post-gig Podcast on this stuff…occasionally heated, always educational, and seldom settled to either party's satisfaction. I mean Kick Axe? Really?!?
We made our next stop in London, KY for their Thursday Night Live concert series. Unfortunately Mother Nature saw fit to drop a few random buckets of rain on both the heads of those assembled to witness the entertainment, and the defenseless PA system that had just been fired up for the opening act. A brief deluge later, our intrepid support Kevin Dalton & The Tuesday Blooms(Look 'em up, bluegrass aficionados…the real deal!)gamely charged through an abbreviated set, sans electricity or sound reinforcement. They absolutely saved the night, and managed to keep the crowd from abandoning ship early. Sadly for us, we didn't arrive equipped to scale down, and were armed only with implements of sonic mass destruction that required current from the local power grid. As such, we were forced to retake the stage and do our thing as best we could, with compromised equipment that included only one fully functioning monitor, conveniently located behind the drum kit. I don't know what it sounded like out front, but it sounded like a bag of feral cats being put through the rinse cycle where I was standing. Sorry, London…we tried…and we tip our hats to the staff and sound crew for indulging us to the end. Come see us just up the road in Somerset this month, where hopefully none of our gear will be waterlogged.
We reluctantly had to cancel the Friday's show in Bristol, TN, because we received a call earlier in the week letting us know that we had been added as direct support for Jack Russell's Great White in Evansville, IN the following night, and they needed us there early in the day for load-in/soundcheck. We got to drag out our full backline for these shows, which we hadn't been able to utilize for a while, and I can't tell you how much I miss that wall of Marshall's behind me, particularly when I've got a roomful of people in front of me getting off on the sound. The show was a blast. In fact, I just finished listening to a recording of it, and the mix out front was fantastic….just the right amount of boom and sizzle, and plenty of loud guitar. Amen.
From there we scattered…Patrick off to Illinois, Kenny into The Sound Emporium to cut drums for a project, Matt to man the phones at headquarters, and me to The Dominican Republic, where I got sunburnt and (I'm pretty sure) roofied by two older ladies from Boston we dubbed The Cheryls. I may or may not have been carried back to my room after sundown, but not by them.
Vacation out of the way, I'm back and in preproduction mode this week, before we start tracking drums and bass for my solo record at The Switchyard. Guitars are piled up, amplifiers have been assigned, and track sheets are being modified daily, as I begin the process of plugging into my notes the sonic specifics required for each song to realize its full potential….or at least that's what I tell myself. Really, it's just a bunch of scribbles on a legal pad that only make sense to me. I have faith though.
Once we get back to business as a unit, July should look something like this:
Friday, July 15th @ The Square Somerset, KY
Saturday, July 16th @ Cue Time Bowling Green, KY
Friday, July 22nd @ Bokeh Lounge Evansville, IN
Saturday, July 23rd @ Brewskies Seymour, IN
Friday, July 29th @ The Crowded House(acoustic show) Madisonville, KY
Saturday, July 30th @ Hightops(acoustic show) Somerset, KY
(More details on our calendar HERE)
….and even though it's in August, I just couldn't wrap this thing up without mentioning our return to the FINALLY reopened John Brown's On The Square in Marion, IL on Friday August 5th. The fire is in the rearview, so it's time to make some new memories up in that joint. Meet us there.
Be good to each other,
The Great Affairs
Nathan Mantor Photography
June it is then. We managed to survive May relatively intact, even with two of us celebrating birthdays on the road, these milestones reminding us however of the finite time spent occupying seats on this here mothership, and thusly inspiring us to get our asses back to work on a new record.
But first, we must finish our covers EP, which has expanded slightly in scope, with the potential addition of two more acoustic tracks, legitimizing the now-apt title "Six Pack". Patrick will be joining me at Pastry Park Audio Confectionery this week, to finish up his guitar tracks, leaving us with only vocals, and assorted overdubs to elbow out of the way before we get this thing mixed. Well, and of course those acoustic numbers, but I imagine we'll knock those down on the fly, and dispense with any futzing about, or extraneous whistling and ringing of proverbial bells.
A quick recap of the past 3 or 4 weeks:
Bowling Green, KY (It rained dollar bills during a song, even though none of us smelled like cotton candy.)
Cincinnati, OH (A good samaritan (Thanks, B.) made us a gift bag filled with sugary and caffeinated items that probably saved our lives, as I consumed most of it on a long overnight drive back to Nashville. Said bag featured a photo of two musclebound, mostly naked guys. Matt asked if he could keep the bag when we were through with the snacks. No one said a word.)
Spartanburg, SC (Many many stairs…going up. Later, it was revealed that they had an elevator. This would have been useful information PRIOR to load-in.)
Columbia, SC ( Matt bought me a shot of Fireball before the show, which I placed on top of my amp for emergency use, in the event of my throat getting rough. Late in the set, when I thought I needed it, I reached for the glass, only to discover it had been drained by the same swell fella that purchased it for me. That's right, he removed the ripcord from my parachute. That's a real friend, ladies and gentlemen. A "Mensch", as Paul Stanley would say.)
Anderson, SC (I lost my voice…Kenny & Patrick finished the night. It has since been located. We drove 6 hours back after this one, and ditched our sketchy hotel, because we love our mothers almost as much as we hate getting robbed, and it was their day.)
Louisville, KY (They wanted us to close the night. No problem, but I informed the sound guy that it was my birthday and I would be celebrating with a few adult beverages, so I could not be held accountable for the quality of my performance beyond a certain point. They put us on next.)
Somerset, KY (The owner told us to "Turn UP." I immediately cracked open my trusty Pocket New Testament to see if this was something from the Book of Revelations, having never heard such a thing. Thankfully, while the skies did momentarily darken, no plague of locusts descended upon us.)
Madisonville, KY (Kenny gave a Behind The Music-style dissertation on the origins of Tom Petty's "You Wreck Me" that involved sampled sounds of flatulence in the place of snare drum hits. I'm pretty sure he was making it up, but I can't be 100% certain, because he's the same guy that wanted to debate the respective merits of KISS's "Asylum" vs. "Lick It Up" en route to the show, while vigorously air-drumming to some of the worst tracks on the former.)
That brings us to now, roughly, so here's what happens next:
Friday, June 10th The District Dothan, AL
Saturday, June 11th The Loft Columbus, GA
Thursday, June 16th Thursday Night Live London, KY
Friday, June 17th O'Mainnin's Pub Bristol, TN
Saturday, June 18th Hightops Sports Bar Somerset, KY
Then, after we take a brief holiday so Patrick can visit his family and I can slip out of the country for a few days, I'm starting on a solo record.
Yeah, a solo record.
So many tunes have piled up over the past two or three years that we're simply never going to have room for without doing our own "All Things Must Pass", but I'm really attached to and proud of a lot of this stuff. So, in the interest of preserving my sanity, and keeping peace within the band, I have enlisted drummer Criss Cheatham, and bassist Dave Webb to lay down a dozen of these numbers with me.
This thing will run the gamut, from big guitar pop stuff, to more laid-back, acoustic pieces, and even a couple of things that rely heavily on loops and programming. For the last 4 or 5 years, I've been cutting all of this material at home on my own, before presenting it to the band, and in all honesty, some of it just doesn't work for our particular group, so I guess I'm finally taking the plunge and doing something with the castaways. Work commences on July 8th, and will in no way interfere with a new TGA record, for which we already have a slew of songs on deck.
Speaking of other outside projects, Kenny & Joshua Ketchmark are just about to wrap up the "All She Wrote" LP that Kenny is co-producing, before heading into Sound Emporium to start on another project, and I did an interview recently, that you can watch HERE, looking back on Joshua's 2012 EP "The Bittersweet" that I produced.
As usual, sorry for rambling, but check us out on FACEBOOK for more regular updates, and keep your eye on our CALENDAR, if you wanna know where we'll be and when.
The Great Affairs
Since we're wrapping up April with a weekend full of shows, I'm going to yet again drop our monthly update a little early.
Tonight(4/29), we roll into Bowling Green, KY, for another stop at The Spillway. If you like it loud, this is the joint for you. We should get started sometime around 9PM, and we'll be maintaining a stranglehold on their stage and your eardrums until about 1AM, slinging stuff from all of our records and associated side-projects, along with a few select covers that we've deemed appropriate for the occasion.
While we've yet to spring any new tunes from their cages, we have gone back to the well and brought up a few numbers that haven't seen the light of day in a spell. Testing these on folks in Knoxville, Macon, and Newnan earlier in the month gave us the idea that we may have been slightly irresponsible in our initial reticence to make these selections part of the regular lineup. For that, we apologize, and endeavor to rectify our shortsightedness by dusting off as many of these "lost" songs as we can while we continue chipping away at the stone that will become TGA 6.
Saturday(4/30), we return to Cincinnati, OH and MVP Sports Bar(formerly Never On Sundays) after entirely too long an absence from the Queen city. This time around, Cincy boys Victor Spoils will be opening the show at 9PM, and we'll be taking over shortly after 10, for a 2 hr.+ barnburner, so stray hydrated, 'cause we're going long with this one.
The following week, we head East for a string of dates dubbed The Wing Jam Tour, hitting Wild Wing Cafe stages in Spartanburg, Columbia, and Anderson, SC.
We then take a week or so off to do some work on the covers EP, and shoot some new band pics, before we shoot over to Louisville, KY and Third Street Dive to celebrate my birthday(5/20). I can't be held responsible for whatever chaos may ensue, but I heartily endorse whatever takes place, because I'm hoping I'll have no recollection of any such shenanigans.
Besides, I already sold my soul in Clarksdale, MS a few weeks back, so what's the worst that can happen to me now?
May 27th & 28th we're doing a pair of full-band acoustic dates in KY. The first at Hightops in Somerset, and the next at The Crowded House in Madisonville.
In other band-related news, check out this INTERVIEW with Kenny, where he discusses producing Joshua Ketchmark's 2012 "Dreamer's Disease" EP. I'll be doing one of these myself soon, covering the work I did with Joshua on "The Bittersweet", another third of his 2012 EP trilogy that is being re-released as a full-length with bonus tracks soon.
That's about all the nuts & bolts of our business for May at the moment, but there's always the possibility that another show could get dropped in our lap before the month times out, so keep an eye on our CALENDAR for all the latest updates.
Be good to each other,
RIP Prince (1958-2016)
I'm sitting here sporting some serious "headphone hair". This coif is a not altogether rare condition most commonly brought on by time spent in the recording studio, or lounging in a beanbag chair across from your turntable with old-school cans on. In this case, my symptoms resulted from the former, as we spent a few hours in our favorite out-of-the-way Nashville haunt for tracking tunes, The Switchyard. Our trusty engineer, Michael "Street" Saint-Leon was once again at the helm, as we cut a handful of covers for what we hope will either become the makings of a new EP of such fare, or bonus tracks to give away with the next full-length (whenever we get the time to deliver on that threat) release.
In other news, we recently picked up a sponsorship from the fine folks at COLDCOCK Whiskey. Hit that stuff, if whiskey is your thing…it's smooth…deceptively smooth, in fact. Trust me, it snuck up on one or two of us after we shared a bottle at rehearsal.
I'm shipping this update out a little early because we have an April 1st date here in town(sort of), and it's been a while since we played locally, so I figured I'd spread the word ahead of that engagement, for anyone unaware.
We'll be headlining the grand opening of former Rutledge GM Andy Aquino's new venture The County Hall, in College Grove, TN. We're gonna do a long one for this. 1.5 hours…possibly split into 2 sets, although I'd rather just rip through it front-to-back myself. We'll see how that goes. Whatever the case, this joint is situated in an old hotel, and sounds like it'll be a pretty cool hang, so please come out Friday night and help us help Andy get this thing off the ground. I think there's an acoustic act kicking off at or around 9, and we'll be on immediately thereafter. It would sure be nice to see some familiar mugs….it's been a little too long without a hometown gig.
From there we have a few road dates throughout the rest of April as we finally commence work on the next record, getting into preproduction on the first handful of tunes we can all agree on. We'll be hitting up the following(you can see our full schedule HERE):
Friday, April 1st The County Hall College Grove, TN
Saturday, April 16th Preservation Pub(w/The Roomsounds)Knoxville, TN
Friday, April 22nd The Alamo Newnan, GA
Saturday, April 23rd The Hummingbird(w/Maradeen) Macon, GA
Friday, April 29th The Spillway Bowling Green, KY
Saturday, April 30th MVP(with Victor Spoils) Cincinnati, OH
May will have us in South Carolina for a few dates, as well as Kentucky, but we've started getting a mess of new offers coming in that will have us headed up into Indiana and Illinois, including a long-overdue Chicago date that should be announced shortly.
In between treks, I promise we'll be busy whipping this new material into shape, and some of the stuff will probably start creeping into the live set from time to time, as we sort out just what is "keeper" and what goes back into the vault. Personally, I think we're still missing one or two bits of magic, but I definitely believe there are enough worthy contenders to begin looking at a return to the studio before Summer's end. If you wanna check out some early demo snippets, scroll back through our FACEBOOK page. I posted a handful of things from the 15-20 ideas I've tracked here at Pastry Park for consideration. They're just clips, but they might give you some idea of where we're headed this time around….or not. Who knows?
And finally….I almost forgot. We're dropping a new T-shirt in April too. It starts shipping around the 11th, but you can pre-order it now in our store, right HERE, if you wanna cut to the head of the line.
OK then, I think that's everything covered…thanks to everyone who came out to see us in March. The Rocking For A Cure benefit in Pekin, IL was such a hit that we've been asked to do it again in September with Mike Tramp and Faster Pussycat, and the John Brown's On The Square rebuilding efforts have by all accounts been phenomenally successful, so our track record as avid and accomplished philanthropists remains intact.
Now go order a shirt or somethin'.
Truth be told, there's not a whole lot to talk about, if we're just doing a recap of last month's activities. Now that's not to say stuff wasn't going on, because we were in fact quite busy…just not on the road or stage.
But that's about to change, I assure you. We were simply occupied with behind-the-scenes stuff, and maybe a little gambling.
In March we begin easing back into it with a handful of shows in Kentucky & Illinois, including a pair of benefits, one to assist in the rebuilding of our favorite haunt John Brown's On The Square…
…and the other a fundraiser for Diabetes & Epilepsy awareness that will have us pulling two shifts back to back for a good cause. The first will be us doing what we do on the regular as The Great Affairs, while following that up immediately thereafter with a full set as backup for my old BEST OF SEVEN bandmate Shane Tassart. As of late, Shane has been fronting an outfit called Lies, Deceit, & Treachery, which also features 3/4s of the original BulletBoys lineup. With that in mind, we'll be doing a little something from their debut, along with a handful of covers we have in common(and some we didn't until just now), as well as a couple of things from the Best Of Seven catalog. It's a pretty cool set, and one that I think anyone who digs stuff from the 80s will find particularly entertaining.
While our calendar has been light, we've taken advantage of the time off to revamp our song list a bit, rethinking a few selections, and resurrecting a number of album tracks that we'd shelved or overlooked along the way, even going so far as to finally introduce something from the long player Kenny & I did as THE DIE YOUNGS in 2014. More than anything, we've been cleaning house, and getting our business in order for a busy summer, and the start of work on our 6th record. I've written some more tunes, and I think the direction is starting to become a little clearer as to where we might be headed with this one, allowing me to set aside a few things that; while I feel very close to them, might not be what this band needs to keep the collective ball rolling…and besides, we need stuff for a follow up to that Die Youngs release anyway.
So, head over to our OFFICIAL page, our BandsInTown profile, or REVERBNATION for the latest show dates(Things start to really pick up in May as we head a little further east and south. ), and keep up with us via our FACEBOOK and TWITTER as we begin hashing out these new songs and seeing just what we've got to work with. Oh yeah, and we might do a real quick, totally-unrelated to-the-next-record, hit n' run studio thing shortly that'll hopefully make up for our lack of recorded output in 2015. I'll keep you posted.
p.s. The Thomas record I co-produced with Joshua Ketchmark has been picked up for release in May by HighVolumeMusic. Check out the PRESS RELEASE. And speaking of Joshua, he just released a single called "My Old Man", written for his dad Bill, who passed a few years back. Bill was good dude, and this song is a great tribute to him. You can check that out HERE.
Punxsutawney Phil may have given the likelihood of an early Spring his personal seal of approval this morning, but we had an entirely different Groundhog Day when we saddled up for our East Tennessee run a few weeks back. Identical to a pair of dates we had to cancel due to an ice storm two years ago (same towns, same venues) , we rolled out knowing we might be headed into the muck, and sure as sh#t(if you'll pardon my French), we hit it….well, the start of it at least. Opting to err on the side of caution, we canceled our rooms at the prestigious Econolodge of Morristown, TN, and headed back after our Thursday night Knoxville engagement, through sheets of just-the-right-side-of-freezing rain, to narrowly outrun the blizzard that had most of Nashville snowed-in by later that afternoon. Thankfully, the fine folks at O'Mainnin's in Bristol were understanding; probably because they didn't really want us camping out in their bar for 2-3 days and maybe going all Donner Party on their staff, so we've rescheduled for June, when I'm fairly confident ice and snow will be out of the forecast. Sorry, Bristol…we'll try to make it up to you then.
That little adventure aside, all of our other January gigs came off without a hitch, for the most part. A dead vehicle battery in Paducah, a drunken street skirmish around our trailer requiring multiple police cruisers on the scene(we were mere spectators, not participants) at one stop, and the navigation of that occasional odd, un-doable request were about the worst of it, and all pretty much par for the course anyway.
We DID play a cool joint in Newnan, GA called The Alamo, that was situated in a part of town used by The Walking Dead and Zombieland as a filming location. Turns out our sound guy Eric had actually worked on TWD, so I might've geeked out just a little over some behind the scenes stuff, while Patrick took a quick hike around the square to see what he might recognize. It's the little things, folks.
And speaking of little things, there is a small favor you might be able to do for us, if you're feeling generous or so inclined. Our favorite venue, a stop we make as often as possible, even when we're NOT actually scheduled to play there, but merely passing through and thirsty, experienced a devastating fire last month that will require a complete rebuild. If you've ever experienced something like this, then you know well what a nightmare it is trying to pull everything back together again to start over. With that in mind, some folks have organized a pair of benefit shows to assist in the efforts to help John and his wife Missy rebuild their place John Brown's On The Square in Marion, IL. In addition to the shows, there are a couple of ways you can help these fine folks if, like us, you can't actually be there. There's a GoFundMe page HERE for monetary donations, as well as a really cool logo T-shirt that can be purchased HERE , if you wanna sport some JBOTS swag while contributing to the cause.
Again, these are good people who deserve the leg up, so if you can find it in your heart to pitch in, or maybe you just need a cool t-shirt to add to your collection, please do us a solid and throw 'em a little coin. We thank you kindly in advance.
So, I think that about covers it for now….we've got one last gig for February on Friday, a full-band acoustic performance at our regular Madisonville, KY haunt The Crowded House, before Patrick embarks on some sort of cruise with his wife, Kenny & I take our ladies to Las Vegas for a few days, and Matt moonlights with his other band Once Free at 12th & Porter. When we reconvene, we'll get down to the business of working up band versions of some of the new material that's been getting the demo treatment here at Pastry Park Audio Confectionery, and maybe resurrecting a few older tunes we've had on the bench the past few months…things like The Next Three Minutes, Dyin' To, and some of that stuff from The Die Youngs record that we'd previously threatened to incorporate into our live show. Now that we've settled in some with this revamped lineup, I think it's finally time to see how those stack up in the live setting.
We'll see you when we see you,
The Great Affairs
SATURDAY, MARCH 12TH FAT MOE'S PADUCAH, KY 9PM
SATURDAY, MARCH 19TH TWISTED SPOKE PEKIN, IL NOON
FRIDAY, MARCH 25TH THE CROWDED HOUSE MADISONVILLE, KY 8PM
SATURDAY, APRIL 16TH PRESERVATION PUB KNOXVILLE, TN 10PM
SATURDAY, APRIL 23RD THE HUMMINGBIRD MACON, GA 10PM
FRIDAY, APRIL 29TH THE SPILLWAY BOWLING GREEN, KY 9PM
SATURDAY, APRIL 30TH MVP CINCINNATI, OH 9PM
…….more TBA, so keep an eye out for additional show dates to pop up throughout March and April. We've got a handful of pending May dates as well that will be announced as soon as the contracts are finalized, and they'll be taking us into some new territories a little further to the East, like the Carolinas.
Did everyone make it through the annual festivities in one piece?
Good. Let's proceed.
It's January 1st, 2016 as I type this, but dawn #1 of this new year isn't hitting me quite as hard as prior inaugural installments have in their early hours, so maybe I'm learning a thing or two about the oft-discussed, previously-deemed mythological method of enjoying one's vices in "moderation"….or did I just run out of beer before I could do my health any real disservice as the ball dropped in Times Square? OR, did Jenny McCarthy's facial contortions sober me up?
I don't know, but this coffee is warm and I ate Sushi for breakfast, so i'm already liking where this next 365 is headed.
Speaking of where things are headed, The Great Affairs will be hitting the road off & on throughout January, headed North, East, and South. Here are the particulars.
Saturday, January 16th Fat Moe's Paducah, KY
Thursday, January 21st Preservation Pub Knoxville, TN
Friday, January 22nd O'Mainnin's Pub Bristol, TN
Friday, January 29th The Loft Columbus, GA
Saturday, January 30th The Alamo Newnan, GA
Before we get into the business of logging those miles though, it's time to start cutting a few demos here at the Pastry Park Audio Confectionery, as we begin the long, debate-riddled process of sorting out just which tunes might make up the running order of our next LP. Initially, I'd had it in my mind that we would take a bit of a detour from the layered, more "produced" sound we went for with 'Dream In Stereo', instead shooting to take the kind of left turn KISS did post-'Destroyer', when they handed in the considerably less slick 'Rock n' Roll Over'. Like that offering, I had imagined us crafting a more straightforward, guitar-heavy outing this time around….but something got in the way….the new songs.
Granted, it's early in the making, and there are plenty of numbers yet to be written, but this first batch of a dozen or so that have come together in the last couple of months certainly doesn't fit the bill previously envisioned. Kenny brought one in that seems like it could fill those shoes, but honestly nothing I've conjured up seems likely to pass muster if we're aiming for a riff-fest. In fact, this might be the oddest batch of material I've spit out in a long, long time. I'm scratching my OWN head at some of it.
So, as much as I'd hoped to avoid doing them this time around, it looks like I'll be hunkering down here at home for a few weeks, and tracking proper demos of this stuff, so that I might be able to see past the weird, and hopefully bond some of them together enough that it makes sense to my ears. If that doesn't work, I'll save the oddballs for that damn "solo record" I've been threatening to do all these years, and go back to the drawing board until I come up with a few other things that might sit more comfortably alongside the contributions Patrick & Kenny have brewing.
It's a damn mess, I tell ya….but I'll get it sorted out.
I'm probably gonna need more coffee.
p.s. If you'd like to hear us get a little drunk and talk about driving school buses while judging various craft beers on their overall quality, check out our recent appearance on the DRUNKEN LULLABIES podcast right HERE. It's a real hoot, as somebody's grandma probably used to say.
Here we are, kids, with Christmas(and a new Star Wars) right around the corner. In the spirit of giving, The Force, and old Saint Nick too I guess, we'd like to extend the only sort of gift our sorely underpaid musician wallets will allow, and offer up some free music. Seeing as we're just days away from the 1-year anniversary of the 'Dream In Stereo' album release, this seemed like a perfect opportunity to host a joint celebration of that auspicious occasion, as well as whatever 4th quarter religious observation each of you holds near and dear, by dropping a link on you that will allow you to grab a free download of our latest, in its entirety.
Please feel free to share this with anyone and everyone you think might be ecstatic, overjoyed, or even agitated by the notion of these free digital goods. Like U2, we aspire to alienate people with generosity, particularly those that have nothing better to do than complain about the labor-intensive act of deleting an unwanted album from their iTunes. OK, not really, but I just wanted to take a moment to poke fun at anyone who really got their cheeks stuck together over that business. Sorry.
As I was saying though, click HERE to get your virtual hands on the best 12 tracks(or at least the 12 we could all agree upon…Personally, I feel we left some good stuff on the bench, but our version of Democracy involves arm-wrestling, and as you may have noticed, my gun show is small caliber, so you wouldn't want me representing your constituency in matters such as these.), and a cover of the Dave Mason classic "We Just Disagree", that we cut for the 'Toy Master' documentary.
I know a lot of you already have the record, in one form or another, but for anyone who was on the fence about buying it, here's a risk-free opportunity to climb down and see what all the fuss we made was about. We worked really hard to see that this thing captured all the facets of the band's personality, and I'm proud of the job we did of making this collection of tunes sound like they could all hang together without throwing punches.
You never know when the work you're crafting might be the last thing you ever release. In this age of apathy towards art, the dwindling financial returns seen versus the investment made in capturing and mass-producing music can take a mighty hatchet to whatever drives us to create and share.
Thankfully, our wills are not yet broken, and as foolhardy as it may seem, I'm pretty sure we'll selfishly put our pig heads to the grindstone and start album #6 shortly. In the meantime, please help yourselves to our last platter, and maybe we'll see you out on the road in the new year, singing along.
OK then…that business out of the way…here's how we're about to wrap up 2015.
This Friday, December 4th, we'll be at The Spillway in Bowling Green, KY, and taking over for the whole night, from 9-1. It's hard telling what we'll play…they don't even let me in on the sets until show time.
The following Friday, December 11th, we officially close out our year at The Crowded House in Madisonville, KY. This one is a full-band acoustic show, from 8-10:30…we'll probably play straight through, and I might even try a new tune or two, if I'm feeling it.
That's about it for us, BUT there could be a quick local showcase in Franklin, TN on Wednesday, December 16th, so watch the OFFICIAL SITE for details on that.
Merry Christmas(or whatever your thing is/isn't) and a Happy New Year,
The Great Affairs
Well, I can't say I didn't see a lot of what 2015 threw at us coming, but nonetheless the curve balls caught me off guard a time or two.
Henry's departure stung. While a necessary zig, I wish we could've zagged. Luckily, we had the venerable Mr. Matt Andersen on deck to cover for our departing brother, and he's proven himself to be quite an asset.
Rehearsals are sounding great, and 2016 looks like it might be a pretty busy year. Our agent has already nailed down a handful of January dates in GA and West TN, and we should be adding some more over the next few weeks, so as much as I despise Winter travel, at least we're headed south most of the time.
In the rear view, the Rock N' Skull Fest in Pekin, Il was quite the excursion. Kenny celebrated a birthday, and I got to meet my Japanese metal heroes in Loudness while getting an LP signed for him. Despite going on early in the afternoon, they more or less stole the show as far as I was concerned. Sh#t, they said screw it and opened with their biggest hit(Crazy Nights), so they already had the Superballs award in the bag(no pun intended) from the launch.
While it did in fact suck getting up and having to make a 10AM load-in to play a 45-minute opening set at noon, it was well worth the hassle. Yeah, we had a bass rig go down for a minute & a half, AND I actually had to start a song and count us back in to where we were SUPPOSED to be, had I not opted to skip ahead to the bridge section for reasons unknown, but we gamely played through, and managed to finish with our heads held high for the earlybird crowd.
Post-set, and after appointing Shandi's Music mailman Bob Long to act as our merch-hustler by proxy, we split out briefly to tape an episode of the Drunken Lullabies podcast. Craft beers were aplenty, and my recollections of the remainder of the days acts are thus compromised by what may technically have been a mild case of inebriation, but I recall Trixter being quite good, and some kid that looked like David Duchovny being really excited about seeing Ted Poley from Danger Danger. Beyond that, it's all a blur….which likely has something to do with my mic stand being left behind at the venue, while a life-size cardboard standup of Taylor Swift that we picked up at my shop made it home with us.
Back in Nashville, we've been busy getting new swag together for next year…guitar picks, posters, stickers…
...while simultaneously futzing around with the first new tunes that might possibly herald some form of a release in the hopefully not-too-distant future. I think we're gonna take a slightly different approach this time around, and since we'll be on the road a bit more, start testing this stuff on strangers as we travel, to see what sticks and what stinks. Maybe we can spare the consumer any righteous duds that way. Either way, it should help us knock the finished product out a little quicker, and spare me having to cut so many damn demos here at home.
So, as we move into the home stretch, just about to put a period on the sentence that was 2015, we've got just a few more shows to get under our belts, and they look something like this.
Friday, November 6th The Spillway in Bowling Green, KY(opening for Stone Senate)
Friday, November 27th at John Brown's On The Square in Marion, IL
Saturday, November 28th at Fat Moe's in Paducah, KY
Friday, December 11th at The Crowded House in Madisonville, KY(acoustic show)
Be good to yourselves,
The Great Affairs
We've been toying with some new t-shirt designs, and right now this one seems to hold the most promise....what do you folks think?
Let us know.
Just 2 more dates for this month, and they couldn't be less alike.
First up, we unplug for Madisonville, KY, with a 2-hr set of acoustic stuff at THE CROWDED HOUSE on Saturday, October 10th.
And then we're headed up to Pekin, IL to open day 2 of 2015's Rock N' Skull Fest at The Leeway on Saturday, October 17th. We'll probably roll in a day early and stay a day late to tape an episode of the new podcast Drunken Lullabies while we're in town, visit some family, and catch the rest of the lineup.
From there it's back to work on the new show, getting everyone up to speed on the changes to the set, and prepping for a handful of gigs in November & December, before we start really getting down to business in the new year, and looking at maybe doing another record while we're at it.
The High Watt
photo credit: Patti Kane
Three shows under our belts with the new lineup. Still applying grease to the gears, but the wheels are most definitely turning. Now, we have to strip it all down to just two acoustics, bass, and percussion for Madisonville, KY's The Crowded House on Saturday, October 10th, before hauling our asses 500 miles north and plugging-in for the 2015 Rock N' Skull Fest On Saturday, October 17th.
...and yes, we will book a proper Nashville show before the end of the year.....I hope.
Well, the deck has been shuffled, and a new hand has been dealt. Henry played his final shows like the true boss that he is, and Matt stepped back into those shoes like he'd always been there. Truthfully, we couldn't have asked for a smoother transition, and both guys handled the passing of the baton like total pros.
With Louisville, Cincinnati, and Clarksville now behind us, we move on to overhauling the set with a revamped lineup. As much as I hate having to more or less start over, this has been a good opportunity to rethink our approach, possibly resurrecting a handful of tunes from Matt's earlier tenure with the band, as well as swapping out a few of the covers we've been doing in favor of new ones. Hell, Patrick Miller is even taking a turn at the mic, handling lead vocals on a classic Peter Green-era Fleetwood Mac tune. Clearly, anything goes at this point.
New material is slowly starting to flow too, and I've been demoing a few ideas here and there, along with collecting the skeletons of others as voice memos on my phone. It shouldn't be long before we have the makings of some sort of release...or at least enough tunes worthy of heading into the studio and committing something to tape for future use. We're coming up on the one year anniversary of the "Dream In Stereo" LP's birth, so I suppose it's about time we start looking at the next chapter. More on that as things develop.
The first order of business is getting out and playing some shows to break in the new guy. We start that this weekend(9/26) at Hub Fest in Marion, IL, followed buy a quick 3-song set at The High Watt here in Nashville on Monday(9/28) for the 8 Off 8th series. Both shows are free, so if you're in vicinity of either gig, don't let a lack of funds prohibit your attendance.
In October, we've got just a couple of shows on the books, but we'll likely add one or two more between now and then. As it stands, we have just Saturday, October 10th at The Crowded House in Madisonville, KY(a full-band acoustic show), and Rock N' Skull Fest at The Leeway in Pekin, IL on Saturday October 17th w/Firehouse, Trixter, Loudness, TUFF, and more. Watch the calendar at TheGreatAffairs.com for updates.
In November, it looks like we'll have Bowling Green(TBA) and Paducah, KY to contend with, as well as a return to John Brown's On The Square in Marion, IL for a post-Thanksgiving hoedown. Again, with the new booking agency, we'll probably be picking up a few more dates as we go, so please keep an eye out for something in your area, because we fully intend to expand our previous radius to include a lot of territory previously off-limits to us due to our former logistics. Speaking of which, shows are on the books, pending, or under investigation for GA, MO, AK, IN, and WV. We might even roll up on Texas in 2016 if the new guy at NahPro Entertainment swings a big enough stick.
See you soon,
Well, I suppose it's time to make this announcement….and here goes…
For more than a decade now(give or take a few brief hiatuses) I've had Mr. Henry Go by my side on stage. He's been there for me from the infancy of fORMER…hell, even before that, taking over bass duties in Bombshell Crush at the tale end of our run, and putting himself through the unenviable paces of learning Tony Higbee's bass parts just to play a couple of shows before the whole thing finally imploded.
When we couldn't find a singer(or a proper moniker) for the the band that crawled out of that wreckage, he trusted me to take over the mic, and stuck by me while I navigated the learning curve(a long one I'm still on) of going from being a lead guitarist to a lead vocalist. His giant voice propped me up and gave me something I could rely on to counter my significantly flimsier attempts at crooning.
More importantly, he let me steer the ship, and gave me a wide berth to make rookie bandleader mistakes(such as taking on the handle fORMER), while I figured a few things out….like how to actually get us paid on occasion. He has always trusted my vision, and delivered the goods needed to make a composition "pop", tolerating my OCD and the inherent difficulty in articulating musical ideas that comes with having absolutely zero actual training…something I'm guessing is not easy for a guy who's legitimately schooled.
In short, this guy has been my brother, and someone I could always count on to have my back. That's why this move has been so tough.
For anyone keeping up with recent developments in The Great Affairs' world, we recently signed on with NAHPRO Entertainment, and they'll be taking over the bulk of our booking duties. In order for this arrangement to benefit either party, we need the flexibility to travel a lot more extensively than Henry's work schedule will allow. We've struggled with this for quite some time, and done our level best to work around the occasional limitations of his availability, but with an outside party assuming the responsibility of getting us shows and keeping us working, the restrictions have simply become unmanageable. So, rather than leave money on the table; something that will surely start to cause some resentments for those us fond of the dirty lucre, and run the risk of losing the support of our new agency, we have collectively decided to part ways on good terms…..no hard feelings, bad blood, or bridges burned. We all straight-up love the guy, and sincerely wish we could've found another solution, but the fact is we could either relegate ourselves to some sort of sporadic "weekend warrior" status indefinitely(i.e. until we hang it up), or we can take all of the hard work we've put into the last several years and see if we can't eek a little profit from it, and get out to so many places that have been deemed out of reach all this time.
I hope this doesn't sound selfish, but I think we've earned the right to move forward, and see what else we can do with that yoke lifted. Henry knows we've tried our best to accommodate his 9-to-5, and he's certainly bent over backwards for us to get out of work as often as possible to make gigs, but we've finally taken that road as far as it'll go, and hit the proverbial wall.
So, Henry is finishing out this month's dates with us, before passing the baton to O.G. TGA bassist Matt Andersen. We've already been rehearsing with Matt in order to make this transition as seamless as possible, and his (re)debut with us will be in September at the Clarksville RiverFest.
This change has also provided us with the opportunity to revamp a few other things, like our set list, so expect to see/hear a few additional tweaks along the way as this lineup starts to get busier. We're going to do our damndest to make sure this overhaul is about more than just shuffling members and accessibility. It's time to get down to business.
OK then, there it is…and here are the remaining August dates with the esteemed Mr. Go on my right:
Friday, August 14th 6-7PM @ TN Brew Works Nashville, TN(full band acoustic set)
Friday, August 21st 9PM Third St. Dive Louisville, KY w/ American Arson
Saturday, August 22nd 9:30PM MVP Sports Bar & Grille Cincinnati, OH
Well, folks, yet again I've been lax in my duties as designated updater of this here info conduit, and I hereby apologize for my negligence. That said, it HAS in fact been a busy month behind the scenes, so I have quite a bit to talk about here.
First, let me mention that Joshua Ketchmark & I sat down with Tommy Edwards, (who operates under the uber-clever pseudonym Thomas to protect his identity and privacy) to listen through; front to back, his new record, which I co-produced(well, I said things like "more reverb" and "turn that low harmony down") with Mr. Ketchmark. This LP consists of 5 completely remixed and, in some cases, re-tracked and rearranged tunes from his "Dirty On The Stereo" EP alongside 6 new songs. Alternate versions of a couple of these appeared on The Die Youngs release last year, and the rest are either things I co-wrote with Tommy or Joshua for the project or leftover numbers that didn't seem fit for The Great Affairs' repertoire. In other words, they had too many bells & whistles in them for us to pull off live, and Thomas(the band) has 6 men on deck to cover those bases, so the qualified team gets the job of recreating them now. I DID get to play a whole bunch of guitar and keys on the stuff, even bass on one track, and barely had to sing but a few notes, so that was a nice change of pace, and a much-needed stretch of my chops, reminding me that maybe I might wanna spend a little more time with a guitar in my hand instead of a paint brush.
photo stolen from Philip Kelly
The same day we all signed off on that record and cleared it for mastering(pending the label's approval, of course…fingers crossed), I boarded a time machine to play a sold-out(??….sure looked like it) show with The Beauty School Dropouts at Marathon Music Works, supporting Framing Hanley's final performance. Bittersweet as it may have been for those guys, it was more of trip for me personally to see so many folks out and about that I hadn't laid eyes on in what amounts to forever(or the average lifespan of one or two bands, at least) in this business. Sadly, it made me a little misty for the Nashville "rock scene" of yore, a community long since rendered extinct by a combination of advanced aging, general malaise, evolution, child-rearing responsibilities, and a dearth of quality excuses to work around any or all of these things(among others) to get out and discover something musical with a "sell by" date later than 2009. It lives and breathes, folks, and you can too….just 'sayin'. Shake it while shakin' it is still a voluntary action. We can all watch TV at the rest home down the road a piece, and I'll pretend not to notice that you have your underpants on over your slacks. Deal?
That's all the preaching I have in me for today. You're welcome.
One other bit of news, for those who missed it, and something to do for folks looking to kill an hour or so of commute time with the soothing sound of my speaking voice, here's the link to the Decibel Geek Podcast I guested on last month. It was KISSmas In July, and we weren't there to discuss lawn care. Check it out…and download a few others while you're there(they're free). Good guys, those two.
Alrighty then, here's the big scoop…we signed with a new booking agency, and by "new" I mean A booking agency, one that isn't essentially Kenny or I masquerading as our own agent. Nope, this is a legit entity, independent of the band, that will be handling the majority of our engagements henceforth, effective immediately. We'll still be handling our regular stops, but the guys at NAHPRO Entertainment have been charged with expanding our travel radius and getting us out on the regular to see the country and sing for our supper. This has brought about a few other significant changes that we'll talk about later, once the proverbial dust has settled and that famous ink is dry.
For now, anyone wondering why we've been relatively inactive, and absent on the local front, there are answers to that question in every one of the preceding paragraphs. We're sorry. If you've missed us, rest assured we've missed you too. If you haven't, well, you're probably the kind of person who takes phone calls in a movie theater anyway, so feel free to eat from the mystery bag.
p.s. Here's some of what we have on deck for August & September>>
Friday, August 14th TN Taproom(full band acoustic show) 6-7PM Nashville, TN
Friday, August 21st Third Street Dive 9PM Louisville, KY
Saturday, August 22nd MVP Sports Bar & Grille 9PM Cincinnati, OH
Friday, September 11th Clarksville RiverFest 7PM Clarksville, TN
Saturday, September 26th Hub Fest Marion, IL
photo by Fawna Hammond/Black Sheep Digital Photography
1014 miles, 1 blown trailer tire, 1 Rock & Roll Hall Of Famer handshake, and I don't know how many beers later, we're back in Nashville. We're most definitely a few dollars poorer for our efforts, but damn, that was one hella good short run.
I guess I'm leaving out a few shows, since our last update was all the way back in early May, so let me back up a smidge.
Louisville, KY, we like you better sans the ice storm…and we'll never complain about two pretty ladies buying us pizza.
Marion, IL, you're still #1….even if we had to stop at your Casey's to address the aforementioned blowout this past weekend. If we hadn't been in such a hurry, I certainly would've voted for a stop at John Brown's On The Square after the bent axle diagnosis and the joys of roadside maintenance were behind us. Alas, an early load-in the following day and the 300 miles left to go that night prevented us from enjoying frosty libations. That said, we'll see you for Hubfest in September.
If you've been keeping up with these entries, then you've probably heard me mention my buddy Joshua Ketchmark & I working with an artist named Tommy Edwards, AKA Thomas. We're in the final stages of wrapping a few songs we wrote and produced for him, and it looks like they'll be getting a proper release in early 2016, via an indie label out of Kentucky. The Great Affairs supported the live debut of his new band last month, and it was a real trip hearing those songs recreated live, after having worked so long on the material. His guys did a bang-up job.
We returned to Madisonville, KY's Crowded House in May, and finally got around to busting out "Dirty On The Stereo" from the side project record that Kenny & I did as The Die Youngs. As it turns out, we might actually be capable of pulling off one or two of those tunes, just minus all the bells & whistles we layered on in the studio. Since we have roughly a month & a half off before our next scheduled gig, it looks like we'll apply some of that down time to figuring out how.
Oh yeah….we have a new video. This one is for another track from the "Dream In Stereo" record called "I Can't Sleep Alone", and is once again directed by Mike J. Nichols, with a little help from Stanley Kubrick and some oddly familiar source footage. You can check it out <HERE>
That brings us up to this past weekend, and a 2-night stand in Pekin, IL, night 1 supporting ex-Guns N' Roses drummer Steven Adler's new band Adler. As advertised, the guy was total sweetheart, and his band were absolute pros.
Night 2 had us on ahead of Mr. Big frontman(and amateur comedian) Eric Martin. Though he busted my chops relentlessly for failing to participate in a singalong( I was writing a setlist, man….come on, somebody has to handle this stuff.), he did get the rest of the TGA guys up to join him on a cover of Humble Pie's "30 Days In The Hole", trading verses with Kenny, and proving to still have one of the toughest white soul voices in the business. Class act all the way. Good times.
The next morning we limped our weathered trailer back to Nashville….I guess I should explain what happened to the old girl exactly…so here goes: Somewhere a mile or so south Marion, IL on Thursday night, around 11PM, we hit something in the road that caused our driver's side trailer tire to disintegrate, taking with it the fender and one of our running lights(that I had only recently replaced, no less). Since the blowout was on the side facing traffic, and the shoulder presented a pretty sheer drop-off, we opted to make a break for the next exit before attempting to fish the spare out and resuming our travels. Once up on the jack, we noticed the rim was pretty well thrashed and our axle was mildly bowed….neither of which translate to money saved. But, we had gigs to make, so Kenny changed the tire out and we carried on, replacing the tire and rim the next day at a Farm Supply outlet. It could've been worse. I don't even wanna think about what that axle is gonna cost.
Alright then, back in Nashville….time off….a couple of us are gonna do some traveling, work on a recording project or two, and I guess I'll be dragging this busted-up gear hauler in for parts and repairs…and then we'll get back to playing some more shows and thinking about what comes next.
While we ponder, I'm gonna tape an episode of The Decibel Geek Podcast this weekend, discussing all things KISS, and my adventures working in their warehouse a few years back, etc. I'm not sure when this thing will surface, but I think it's scheduled for sometime in July, assuming Chris & Aaron have enough time to edit out every instance of me putting a foot in my mouth. Watch for that, and check the guys out <HERE> They have a mess of great stuff in their archives.
Shows on the books at the moment:
Saturday, August 1st - Marathon Music Works (I'm playing guitar for The Beauty School Dropouts, supporting Framing Hanley at their farewell show.)
Friday, August 14th - TN Brew Works (Nashville, TN) 5PM
TGA acoustic show FREE
Saturday, August 22nd - MVP Sports Bar (Cincinnati, OH) 9PM
Friday, September 11th - Clarksville River Fest (Clarksville, TN) 7PM
Saturday, September 26th Hub Fest (Marion, IL) time TBA
….August & September have a few more pending dates, so keep checking the calendar, and we might land a little closer to you soon.
OK, gotta run. Cheers and such….
It's May. It's hot. We now start sweating BEFORE we play a note. I'll take it. After one too many treacherous drives this winter, when the trailer's trajectory didn't always seem to necessarily coincide with that of our passenger transport, I'm ready for a few seasons where black ice is not a regular concern.
So, we've got a couple of things under our belt already...The Nashville IPO Fest, and O'Connors Spring Music Fest. We used each of these to test our newly-expanded repertoire, and we'll continue to do that with the rest of our Spring/Summer dates, starting this Thursday(5/14) at Nashville's Daisy Duke's, where we'll be special guests of Black Shag for their Thursday night residency series there. The next night(5/15) we'll be back in Louisville, KY, closing out a rather eclectic bill at Third Street Dive.
The following weekend we head north, and back to our Marion standard John Brown's On The Square on Friday(5/22). We've got 3 full sets to deliver that night, so we've been working on a few things that will get their official unveiling there in Southern Illinois, before we trek the next 250 miles or so to Pekin the next night (5/23), to open for the live debut of Thomas. Thomas, for anyone who frequents the Central Illinois club scene, is the new project from Bubblegum Jack frontman Tommy Edwards, who I've been writing and producing a new record for with my buddy and former Best Of Seven bandmate Joshua Ketchmark. This will be their first official show, and there might be a guest or two on hand for the event that will make it one not to miss if you're in the area. Check our calendar for details on all of the above.
That wraps up May, but in June we have a few dates on the books, and maybe one or two others shaping up as I type this that we'll have to get into later. For now, we've got an acoustic engagement in Madisonville, KY at The Crowded House on Friday, June 13th, followed by two more back to back Central Illinois dates. The first is opening for former Guns N' Roses drummer Steven Adler's new band Adler at Hat Tricks in Pekin, IL on Friday, June 19th, before doing an acoustic set on Saturday, June 20th, in support of Mr. Big's Eric Martin at The Twisted Spoke Saloon.
That's all the scoop fit to print at the moment, but stay tuned for further details, as I'm certain things will change as soon as I press "publish".
Cheers.....and be good to your mothers,
They can't live without your love and affection, ladies...Matthew and Gunnar Nelson are on the bill with us Friday. Don't miss this one!
OK, I guess it's been a month or so since the last update, and truthfully there hasn't been much of note going on other than a heap of behind the scenes crap that would likely bore you to tears if I were to expound upon it. As such, I will cut to the chase and try to "CliffsNotes" this entry to the best of my notoriously long-winded ability.
We played a couple of shows. The last Crowded House acoustic gig in Madisonville, KY was an absolute blast. It gave us a chance to try out a few new tunes, and the gang there seems to be growing in numbers…plus, I got a sweet new lid from a cat named Danny who swears it will bring me luck, even if he nearly died in a car accident when he first got it.
We finally got back to The Pond in Franklin, TN, even if Henry only just made it in the nick of time. Honestly, I thought we played like crap, but whatever, those nights happen every now and then. My apologies though to anyone who was in attendance and happened to share my opinion of our performance.
The new T-shirts have been selling well, and it is here that I shall insert a shameless plug in the form of a LINK you might click on to procure one for yourself.(note: All the bonus swag on offer originally is still to be had, so get 'em while that lasts.)
We earned ourselves this pretty rave REVIEW last week from the other side of the world, so if you're reading this and haven't yet laid claim to a copy of the new record, this writeup should send you sprinting to THIS LOCATION to set that mistake straight.
OH yeah, and I lost a bunch of cash in Vegas since the last time we convened here, so please feel free to buy an extra thing or two from the store so I can get off this Ramen Noodle diet. I hear all the sodium is bad for you.
Producer Joshua Ketchmark & I did a little more work on the new Thomas(Tommy Edwards) record, including a co-write that looks like it'll be track #7 for the project. I just finished up a demo of that the other day and I think it'll be a cool addition to what is currently quite a mixed bag of material. Tommy will be back in Nashville to cut some more vocals in early/mid May, and it looks like we're shooting for a Fall release. His band are making their live debut with us in Pekin, IL on Saturday, May 23rd, for anyone in the Central Illinois area.
Speaking of show dates, everything for the next couple of months that we have on the books at the moment are in the entry below this one, so check those out…a couple of local dates, and then a few IL, & KY engagements for April & May.
Other than all of the above, I learned how to hang wood siding, went to L.A. for a week, where I ate and drank too much and had Alice Cooper's bass player make me coffee, cut my hair, and wrote few songs, one of which might be my contribution to a new digital single from THE DIE YOUNGS. I should know more about that by the next time we get around to one of these.
Alright then, I hope everyone had a good Easter, and we'll see you when we see you.
p.s. For anyone following my Hearing Things blog online, I've opted out of doing that for a while/indefinitely/maybe forever. I've just had too much other stuff going on to keep up any sort of consistent quality, and didn't wanna just submit tripe to fulfill an obligation to the publication. Sorry.(HERE's the last entry…sort of a more detailed explanation.)
My boarding passes are printed, and this time tomorrow I'll be in the air, bound for the 20 yr. anniversary/vow renewal celebration of my brother and former Best Of Seven bandmate Shane Tassart and the incredible woman who has managed to put up with him for these past two decades, Stephanie.
In addition to being outspoken on a number of topics (most of which he is sadly mistaken about), and an avid supporter of all things Barry Manilow, Shane currently fronts the new outfit Lies, Deceit, & Treachery, along with 3/4s of the original Bulletboys lineup.
A few days in Vegas, and it's back to work on the new Thomas EP, cutting guitars for the next couple of tracks(You Won't Get It Here & The Ride), and adding vocal harmonies and some extra guitar bits to the stuff we spent last weekend working on(Hold On To Me, Dear Anna, & Drivin', Baby) with Tommy Edwards and bassist John Massaglia. Having producer Joshua Ketchmark at the helm this time around, things are already starting to shape up nicely, and he & I may collaborate on some additional tunes for the project to help flesh out a full album, if the right material comes of it.
As for The Great Affairs, we're still partially in "woodshed" mode, working up the last few tunes from Dream In Stereo that we have yet to play live, stuff like Stay All Night, Miss America, Left Of Me, and The Highway, as well as tinkering with a few covers we thought might be good for stretching our chops a little. We'll probably spend the rest of March and April fine-tuning all of the above, and playing the odd show here & there. Right now it's a pretty light schedule, but we will be in Madisonville, KY at The Crowded House for an acoustic show on Saturday, March 7th, and the following weekend we're plugging back in at The Pond in Franklin, TN with newcomers Molly's Backbone on Saturday, March 14th, so things won't go entirely dark.
The record continues to move and garner some pretty great reviews, and we've got a new t-shirt design, based on the album cover that starts shipping on March 7th, along with a few free perks we're including with these initial orders. Here are all the details on the best 20 bucks you'll spend all year, should you decide to pony up now and get on the Pre-order list.
GILDAN 100% cotton semi-fitted fashion tee.
Red & white ink on black shirt. S-XXL ORDER NOW AND GET A DREAM IN STEREO GUITAR PICK AND FREE 'Dream In Stereo' ALBUM DOWNLOAD CARD! WHILE SUPPLIES LAST.
BUT WAIT, like a set of Ginsu Knives, the extras don't stop there. If you order before we change our minds, you'll get an additional download card forThe Die Youngs' 'Nothing's Broken' LP.
ALL of this for just $20(includes shipping & handling).
(US orders only.)
OK then, I'm off to pack for Sin City, where I will almost assuredly NOT go all "Rain Man" on them, so please feel free to buy me a drink upon my return, when you see me with my pockets turned out and looking thirsty.
Hearing Things Blog
The Great Affairs official site
AVAILABLE FOR SHIPPING MARCH 7TH!
GILDAN 100% cotton semi-fitted fashion tee.
Red & white ink on black shirt. S-XXL
ORDER NOW AND GET A DREAM IN STEREO GUITAR PICK AND FREE 'Dream In Stereo' ALBUM DOWNLOAD CARD! WHILE SUPPLIES LAST.
BUT WAIT, like a set of Ginsu Knives, the extras don't stop there. If you order before we change our minds, you'll get an additional download card forThe Die Youngs' 'Nothing's Broken' LP.
ALL of this for just $20(includes shipping & handling).
(US orders only.)
It's a done deal, kids. New shirts are in the pipeline, and they look something(or exactly) like this. Fashion Ts in S-XXL. We'll have them available at shows and for order here shortly. They should start shipping by March 6th. Watch for a "buy" link to pop up in the store around that time with all the details. We might even be giving away some extras with each purchase. Cheers.
First off, I'd like to apologize for the lack of updates around here. I sometimes forget that the entire world doesn't rely on FaceBook for its news. Not that it would matter if they did, since the powers that be at the almighty Book Of Face have gone to such great lengths to prohibit you from reading most anything a band, artist, or business posts these days anyhow.
So, where were we?
Patrick & I did a post-Xmas acoustic show in Peoria, Illinois. I was a little under the weather, but nobody got hurt, beer & whisky proved to be a relatively adequate stand-in for sanctioned meds, and we had a good enough time that I almost forgot about the fact that my throat might be bleeding before it was all over with. I'm pretty sure it wasn't, for the record, as it appears to have rebounded to it's prior, adequate self.
Once back in Nashville, and with The Great Affairs reassembled, we got down to work on figuring out just how to hopefully play this new record live. Easier said than done, but we were able to get a good half of the album worked up in time to do a couple of road dates to test it ahead of the release show last night at Mercy Lounge.
photo by Darrell Frasier
First on the calendar was a (should've been but wasn't, due to inclement weather) quick run to Louisville, KY, for a set at Third Street Dive. Once we safely traversed the distance, most of which was a white-knuckle drive through icy blizzard-like conditions, we had ourselves one hell of a good time, and saw a few folks we'd been missing over the past few months in and out of the studio and off the road.
The following week, and the night before the official release party, we headed up to our home away from home in Marion, IL to play the legendary John Brown's On The Square, which turned into a party of its own, complete with a visit from a few of my Central Illinois brethren who made the slightly-longer journey south to hang with us for the evening. We played for roughly 3 hours that night, running last-minute diagnostics on the new stuff, and sorting out just what was or was not firing on all cylinders. We played a few new covers too, since we had the time to kill, trying some Bad Company, AC/DC, Bob Seger, and even a little Bon Jovi on for size. All in all, I'd have to say it was the most fun I've had on stage in a long time.
photo by Doogie Vance
Sadly, we had to depart immediately thereafter to get Henry back to Nashville for a 6AM teaching engagement, so by the time we rolled up to Mercy Lounge for a 5PM load-in and soundcheck, we were all pretty beat. But, the show must go on, as they say, and by the time Defense Wins Championships and The East Side Gamblers wrapped up back to back sets of pretty balls-out rock n' roll, we had no choice but to tap the reserve tanks, knock back a couple of drinks, and give whatever we had left to give. "That's how winning is done." as the esteemed philosopher Robert "Rocky" Balboa once famously said. Like that noted sage, we weren't always pretty throughout the bout, but I think we landed enough winning combinations to leave the ring with out heads up.
photo by Jamie Cadmus
Here we are, the morning after, Superbowl Sunday, and my bones are aching from a combination of sleep deprivation and dehydration from the caffeine I've been using to prop myself up for the past 48 hours, but I'd like to think that it's all been worth it, especially since we're fixing to do it all over again soon.
At the moment, February and March are pretty light on dates, due to some travel commitments that Henry & I have, but once the weather starts to warm up we should be back in business. May in particular will have us putting in quite a bit of work, but in the meantime watch for shows to pop up sporadically as we do our best to plug a few gaps in the calendar and continue our attempts to push 'Dream In Stereo' into unfamiliar earholes.
I think's about all I've got at the moment, but like I said, keep an eye on the calendar for dates that will most likely start appearing sooner than later. While we wait, I'm gonna go get a haircut, sell a house, and spend a few days in Vegas.
Here's how it shook out, the year that was 2014…just the highlights:
January: Kenny & I headed out to Los Angeles for Winter NAMM with our buddy/engineer Joshua Ketchmark. While there, we did a quick photo shoot with our Billy Vondrasek for The Die Youngs album sleeve, that had us wandering around the grounds of an $18 million castle/mansion right next door to the Tate/LaBianca murder house. We drank too much and got to feel an earthquake. The Cali experience in full.
February: The Great Affairs headed up to Cincinnati to play The Thompson House for ClassX radio's fundraising bash. We were spared the usual nightmarish travel conditions that seem to plague us every other time we make the mistake of traveling North or East during the winter months, and got to share the stage with a bunch of great regional acts.
March: Did a little traveling with our old TGA bassist Matt Andersen in tow; subbing for Henry, who was away on other business. Did a couple of shows with Matt in the fold, gigs with Abandon Jalopy & LA Guns. He performed admirably. Shortly thereafter, I made my way back to L.A. for a few days, and got to join The Lonely Drunks Club Band for a couple of numbers at The Viper Room.
April: The Die Youngs 'Nothing's Broken' LP was released. Kenny & I had been laboring over this, off and on, for the better part of 2 years. it got some great reviews, and has actually moved quite a few copies despite the fact that we haven't ever done a show to support it.
We did a few gigs while getting the material together for what would eventually become The Great Affairs 5th proper release, including one with Mike Tramp of White Lion. Tramp was especially cool, even saving himself a few cents on laundry by wearing one of our shirts in his web update the next day.
May: The Great Affairs did a little road work, supporting ex-Motley Crue, and fellow Nashville resident John Corabi, as well as 3 of us(sans Patrick) acting as the backing band for Joshua Ketchmark at the International Pop Overthrow Festival here. We also got last-minute word that we'd be opening the show for Cinderella frontman Tom Keifer at Mercy Lounge, playing to what was probably our biggest crowd of the year.
June & July were spent getting the songs together for the new record, so that we could start actual tracking the first week of August, which was originally supposed to be a month filled with studio work. Instead we got offered some shows with Trixter & The Quireboys, among others, so we quickly turned out an updated version of our last EP '4'(which we'd sold out of) as '4.5', now with 3 bonus tracks (KISS & Fleetwood Mac covers, as well as one previously unreleased tune of mine), so we'd have some new product for sale at the shows we were playing to subsidize the making of what we now know as the 'Dream In Stereo' LP.
September: We hunkered down on the recording thing, and got an opportunity to cut a cover of Dave Mason's "We Just Disagree" for use over the closing credits of the forthcoming documentary 'Toy Masters'. The track turned out great, so we tacked it on to the end of our album…lucky number 13.
October: We wrapped up mixing on the record and started getting the artwork and cover concept together, while Patrick & I prepped for the 20-yr. reunion of our high school band FOXX at Pekin's Rock N' Skull fest the next month.
November: FOXX reunion was a far greater success than anticipated, and it was good to put that thing to bed with a victory, but it was on to getting the new TGA album released. Photos were shot, CDs were pressed, digital content was submitted and then….
December…16th, to be precise, 'Dream In Stereo' was made available worldwide by various vendors of physical and digital recorded product, right about the same time the long-delayed Bombshell Crush reissue was unleashed by FnA Records. I believe that's what you call "flooding the marketplace".
Mike J. Nichols even made us a sweet video for the first single "The Next Three Minutes" that you can find on YouTube.
Patrick & I will play one last 2014 show, at The Red Barn in Peoria, IL on Saturday, the 27th…just us with acoustic guitars, voice, and maybe a little harmonica.
So, that brings us up to speed, I think. What happens in 2015?, you ask.
Well, we're booking shows now…looking to get out and around TN, KY, OH, AL, GA, MO, IL, IN…while also possibly doing some more extensive traveling for some stripped-down shows, possibly as a trio, and getting out to some other, slightly more far-flung destinations…details on that later. The first order of business is, of course, seeing how far we can take the record we've been slaving over for the past few months. I think everyone knows by now what an uphill battle it is trying to squeeze a dime out of this business these days, but we're thick-headed and game for the challenge at the moment, so bring on the mountain, as they say.
As far as new material goes, I've been working on a little project called The Larimores with a couple of good friends, when our schedules permit. You can hear an early preview of that stuff on my site( www.dennysmithmusic.com ). It's up there in the media player, a tune called "The Way Home". It's a little different, but not that drastic a departure from the usual TGA fare. Oh yeah, and I think I'm gonna finally take the plunge and do a "solo record" this year…maybe try and see how much work I can get done with just these two hands, and zero call for compromise. It's probably time.
Merry Xmas…or whatever it is you choose to celebrate this time of year.
That's right, in case you hadn't heard 'Dream In Stereo' is available now, right <HERE>, as well as via iTunes , CDBaby , and a mess of other digital and retail outlets I honestly don't have the links for at the moment.(Nashville folks, Grimey's is stocking it now, by the way.)
You can stream the whole thing right <HERE> if you wanna preview it in its entirety, but trust me, it's awesome.
The other BIG news is the debut of the video for the album's first single "The Next Three Minutes", put together by our good friend Mike J. Nichols, with a little help from some Kubrick fella. It stars Jack Nicholson & Shelly Duvall, and really captures the spirit of the tune.
That's about it for now. No, wait...I'll be on the Joe Padula show tomorrow (Friday 12/19), WJZM 1400AM Clarksville, at 5PM, spinning tunes from and talking about the new record, and I might play a live acoustic number if they can talk me into it.
AND Patrick & I will be in Illinois, specifically Peoria, IL at The Red Barn on Saturday, December 27th, doing a set or two of acoustic tunes. That starts at 9, and it's free, so come down and say hey after you make your post-Xmas rounds. The rest of you we'll see again in 2015.
p.s. I almost forgot...the Bombshell Crush reissue is available for order now from FnA Records. It looks and sounds fantastic. They did a bang-up job on it.
First off, let me just apologize for the lack of regular updates. Trust me, it's not a LACK of activity that has made us go dark over here, rather a full slate of things keeping us tied up and away from the business of staying in touch. Again, sorry.
I'm sure most of you aren't really wondering what has kept us away, but I'm gonna pretend you were, and fill you in anyhow.
We made a record….a whole record this time….what we refer to in "the biz" as an LP. Sadly, it won't be on vinyl, but we are making the CD version available in just a couple of weeks. It's being pressed as you read this(assuming you're read ing this within 2 weeks of its original transmission), and we're making it available for pre-order right <HERE> , so do us both a favor and grab yourself a copy now. It will arrive at your doorstep in a lovingly-designed gatefold sleeve(courtesy of our buddy Joshua Ketchmark), that will hopefully allow you to imagine what it might've been like were it in a 12"x 12" format, as opposed to the far less-impressive 4.75" x 4.75" that we've been forced to contend with in this digital age.
Format shortcomings aside, this thing turned out great, and we're beyond proud of the work. Our go-to cohorts behind the board(Michael Saint-Leon), and keys(Michael Webb), brought a little something extra to the party on this one, and I think we covered most of the bases with this batch. You can here a few preview tracks over at our <REVERBNATION> page, and we're rotating new ones in and out every Monday until the record drops.
Oh yeah, it's called 'Dream In Stereo', and it looks a little like this…almost exactly like this in fact.
We were gonna call it 'Hello Miss America'…some of you may have see the original cover art options we'd been working on even, but we decided 'Dream In Stereo' had a better ring to it, and the cover concept we came up with was simply cooler than our initial idea, hands down.
If you get this today(Thursday, December 4th), we're playing one last full-band show for the year at The Rutledge in Nashville, bidding farewell to one of our favorite venues and the only soundman we'd ever let yell at Henry without reprisal, Mr. Frank Sass. We've put together a set that's designed to kick your giggleberries up into your throat, so dress accordingly, and don't cry if your ears hurt afterwards, or we're gonna take turns pointing and laughing at you. We hit the stage at 8, followed by some cats that call themselves Tom & Hebron at 9.
There's more news to come, regarding the Bombshell Crush CD reissue. I received a few copies today, but I'll have order details from the label soon, so watch for a link to be posted on the site soon. They look fantastic, and sound amazing, for the record….brought back a lot of great memories as I gave my copy a once-through…that band might've had a little more gas in the tank, but I suppose we'll never know. Ah nostalgia…..(p.s. I'll have a very small quantity on hand at the show tonight, so find me before they're gone if you want yours now.)
But back to the present, <HERE> is that link again to pre-order the new record, and those should be shipping the week before Xmas, so we got her wrapped up just in time. Hey, who knows, if we sell enough, we might just make another one.
In the meantime, we're gonna concentrate on getting back out there and playing a few shows, so keep an eye on the calendar, our <FACEBOOK> page, the <OFFICIAL TGA SITE>, and your local entertainment rag for our impending engagements.
See you tonight….or very soon,
The Great Affairs
11 hours later, and we emerged from The Switchyard with the last 6 tunes worth of basic tracks. All drums, bass, rhythm and acoustic guitars are cut for the second half of this 13-song monster that we hope to unleash in December. Now it's off to Black Gold Speakeasy for a few guitar and percussion overdubs, before we get into vocals and, finally, keys with our personal Billy Preston, Michael Webb.
A little(or a lot of)mixing later, and we'll have TGA #5 on deck.
We're still messing around with artwork, and probably will be until we settle on a final running order for the tunes, but we've got a concept together that I think is gonna be pretty cool.
For now, we're gonna be laying low for a while longer, other than maybe one or two appearances before the end of the year, so we can concentrate on getting all of these loose ends tied up. Hopefully we'll be able to get out and promote this thing a bit in the new year, schedules permitting.
Here's what made the cut:
LEFT OF ME
THE NEXT 3 MINUTES
STAY ALL NIGHT
EYES IN EVERY ROOM
LET'S HEAR IT FOR YOU
I CAN'T SLEEP ALONE
SECRET'S A SECRET
(COVER TUNE…DETAILS TBA)
A couple of these have made the live set over the past couple of months, so some of you might recognize them, but the bulk of this stuff we've kept under our hats. The cover is part of a project we were enlisted for that looks like it'll be part of a film that's coming out next year. We'll fill you in on that soon.
Saturday, November 22nd The Crowded House Madisonville, KY
(acoustic set) 8-10:30PM
Thursday, December 4th TBA Nashville, TN
More news as it gets made, folks. Sorry for the silence here as of late…business behind the scenes.
So I'm sitting here, listening to David Allan Coe's 'Unchained' record, and marveling at the fact that it's August 1st already, meaning we're approximately 48 hours from starting proper work on the new TGA record, tentatively titled 'Hello Miss America'. It's been quite a while since we've done a full LP, unless you count The Die Youngs and fORMER efforts. The Great Affairs last two releases have been EPs, with just 6 or 7 songs each(unless you got those Kool Kat versions with the extra tracks), so this will be our first true full-length release since 'Ricky Took The Wheels' in 2010. The band has evolved quite a bit since then, which will hopefully be evident with this collection. It's shaping up to be a pretty solid batch of tunes thus far, and probably our most collaborative to date.
With nearly 3 years of shows under our belts in this lineup, we've amassed a pretty ridiculous amount of material that we've yet to fully weed through. Of the 40+ that have made it to the demo phase, 8 have gotten the thumbs-up so far, with an eye towards having at least a dozen or so properly cut, and ready to choose from for the final running order.
When this thing will appear is anyone's guess. We'll be working on it over the next few months, as time and our budget allow, and I for one would like to see it out before the end of the year. But, "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.", as they used to say.
So, that leads us to shows, and we've got a few in August.
8/15 @ John Brown's On The Square - Marion, IL 9PM
8/16 @ Hat Tricks - Pekin, IL (supporting Bang Tango & The Quireboys) 8PM
8/17 @ Hat Tricks - Pekin, IL (supporting Trixter) 5:30PM
8/19 @ The Rutledge - Nashville, TN (supporting The Quireboys) 7:30PM
8/30 @ Wicked Good End Of Summer 2 outdoor bash - Clarksville, TN ??PM
8/30 @ Tidball's - Bowling Green, KY (with Plastic Friends) 10PM
In other news, the expanded version of '4', dubbed '4.5', will be available at these shows. It's got new artwork, and 3 extra tunes to boot, but will only be available at the merch table and via this site while supplies last.
I think that about covers it for now. The next few weeks we'll be living in and out of either The Switchyard, Pastry Park Audio Confectionery, or Black Gold Speakeasy, that is when we're not out making the bank we need to live in and out of said establishments.
'Til next time,
THE GREATER AFFAIRS OF JULY 2014
So, upon our last visit we were just about to play Exit/In, and we did exactly that, as evidenced by the following video clip, shot by our good buddy Darrell Frasier. You may remember him handling the "Sherrybaby" video shoot.
"Head Light" (Live at Exit/In)
Following a quick, one-off acoustic show in Pekin, IL with Saints Of Rebellion, where we debuted "The Eyes In Every Room", the first of several new tracks that are slated for the next record, we dropped another rookie, entitled "California" at 12th & Porter a few days later. Both were thrown into the mix during our TN Taproom appearance on June 21st.
Here's a clip of us doing "Shame On You" from that show, courtesy of Ron Matthews' camera.
"Shame On You"(Live at the TN BrewWorks Taproom)
We had planned on taking the rest of June & July off to tighten up the handful of material we're scheduled to start tracking on August 3rd, but it looks like a couple of acoustic dates have popped up between now and then.
Saturday, July 19th at Wall Street in Murfreesboro, TN w/The Decadence, and Black Market Research(This one will be just Patrick, Kenny, & I, as Henry's scheduled to be out of town that weekend…we may mess around with some oddball stuff as a result…hell, we might do a whole set of acoustic KISS covers, you just never know.)
Thursday, July 24th TN BrewWorks Taproom in Nashville, TN 6-8PM
(We're back. Love this place. Great beers, cool staff, and a chance this time to stretch out for a couple of hours and play some stuff we don't normally get to play around these parts. It's free, so head over after work, ya stiffs, and wind down(or up) with us over a few cold ones.)
From there, it's a string of dates to the north in August, including shows with 80s stalwarts Trixter, Bang Tango, and The London Quireboys, as well as a return to John Brown's On The Square in Marion, IL, where we intend to unveil a significant portion of this new material over the course of our 3 sets, and dust off a few odd covers that we haven't visited in a while.(Check the calendar for the specs on these shows)
In other news, it looks like The Die Youngs record is getting a second pressing, since #1 is wiped out. This thing has sold out repeatedly at CDBaby(and is right now, in fact), and we've run out of stock to replenish it, so round two is on the way.
Speaking of pressing records, we've made plans to re-press the last TGA record '4' with 3 bonus tracks, simply calling it 4.5. We'll be adding the KISS & Fleetwood Mac covers we did last year, as well as a new tune entitled "All Along" that some of you may have heard via Soundcloud. It'll have slightly updated art, and will only be available here and at shows.
In FOXX news, here's a clip from a recent rehearsal of us working out a solo from the first original song we ever wrote together…
"When Love Dies"
I think that's all I've got for now. Hopefully next month I'll be able to post something from the side project I've been working on with Joshua Ketchmark(Best Of Seven) and Lee Coram(fORMER) that we've been calling The Larimores. We've got 2 songs wrapped up, and we're working on a third today, so with any luck we'll have a snippet at least to share soon.
Alright, I'm off to see what damage may have been done while I was in Vegas to the house Kenny & I are flipping over in West Nashville. Say a prayer, folks, Gary Pruitt swings a mighty sledge.
JUNE 2014 UPDATE
We came out swingin' in May, with 3 shows in 4 days, starting at John Brown's in Marion, IL, moving a little further north to support ex-Motley Crue singer John Corabi with a stripped-down set at Goodfellas(now Hat Tricks) in Pekin, IL, before turning right back around and heading back to Nashville for a double header at the 2014 IPO Fest's Nashville edition, backing up our buddy Joshua Ketchmark and then wrapping up the whole thing with a slightly abbreviated set of our own.
John Brown's=always a blast.
Goodfellas: We ran into a mess of family & friends we don't see often enough these days. We'll be back there next weekend, doing an early show on Sunday, June 8th(6PM), opening for Saints Of Rebellion. It'll be all 4 of us, but stripped-down, acoustic like last time. I promise we'll get back up that way with a full electric show at some point, but this is a one-off, and just how things have shaken out. It'll happen. Honest.
IPO…well, what can I say? Not an ideal setup, and I'd really like to take a mulligan.
That ugliness behind us, we were fortunate to get the opening slot on Cinderella frontman Tom Keifer's Nashville date at Mercy Lounge. We went on to a full house, and made more than a handful of new friends before it was over with. Keifer and crew laid waste to that joint as well, and it was great to finally see my former cohort Tony Higbee in action with those guys.
A quick 3 songs at Twin Kegs went down last night, bookended by the stellar Tom Pappas Collection, and the mighty Black Shag. My ears are still ringing. Caught the Wooly Mamas set too, and those guys are the real deal, so check them out if you get a chance.
That brings us up to date, which means Saturday night (5/31) is the next order of business. We'll be 3rd out of 4 on a bill that also includes The Larangos, Yenisley, and Nick Britt & Black Market Research. 7 bones'll get you in, and we have every intention of tearing the place up, so please don't sleep on this one, 'cause it's a big room, and it gets a little lonely up there when we're singing to the wall. Plus, I'm fragile, and might never recover from the experience of just this once playing to a room that's not sold out.
June 8th…Goodfellas…details above.
June 14th…TBA. Watch this page. We'll announce this one soon.
June 21st…full-band acoustic set at Tennessee Taproom. 4PM. FREE.(part of the Music In May event)
….the rest is anyone's guess at this point, so stay tuned.
In non-The Great Affairs-related business, The Die Youngs record continues to get some pretty cool reviews, and our first pressing is almost sold out, so don't dawdle if you want a physical copy.
FOXX rehearsals for the 20-yr. reunion at November's Rock N' Skull Festival w/Danger Danger, Black N' Blue, Bulletboys, Faster Pussycat, etc. start this Sunday. The set list is made, and the homework has begun….wardrobe is yet to be determined.
Be good to one another,
The Great Affairs Official
The Great Affairs Facebook
The Die Youngs Facebook
Hearing Things Blog
OK, here's what's been happening since we last encountered each other via a similar transmission…
We played with Mike Tramp from White Lion, and had a damn good time doing so. We sounded(and looked) something like THIS.
Mr. Tramp was a swell cat, said some kind things about us on his Facebook page, and even went so far as to wear one of our t-shirts in an installment of his road video series "Songs From A Motel". You can see that HERE.
We did another installment of Twin Kegs Tic Tac Toe in there somewhere…80s Night…did some REO Speedwagon & Tesla, and even a quick "encore" of John Mellencamp's "Pink Houses" on the fly.
We also did a last-minute benefit at Kustom Kreature for the East C.A.N. association. They assist in fostering lost or abandoned animals. Great folks behind this thing, and a cool joint to boot. Besides, how often do you get to see a guy in a wolf headdress ride right through the front door of a tattoo parlor on a pink Vespa scooter while a band is playing in the corner? It was only MY third such experience, and I'm pretty traveled, so I can imagine you're thinking "not very often". Good times.
Ahead of us we have a trio of shows this weekend, starting Friday, May 2nd at John Brown's On The Square in Marion, IL, hands-down out favorite regular gig. We're doing three sets that night, which means a few select cover tunes, in addition to a handful of our own songs we've reinstated recently from previous releases.
Since Henry, Kenny, & I will be backing up our buddy Joshua Ketchmark at this years International Pop Overthrow Festival here in Nashville on Sunday, we're gonna drag him along and pull him up onstage for a couple of his numbers here & there throughout the night. This will be Josh's first live performance since relocating to Nashville from Los Angeles in October, and it's starting to come together, so this may not be the last you see of this lineup.
From Marion, we're headed a little further north to support ex-Motley Crue vocalist/RATT guitarist John Corabi with an acoustic performance at Goodfellas in Pekin, IL on Saturday, May 3rd. You can get advance tix for this at the venue for just $10. Otherwise they'll be $15 at the door, FYI.
And then, as mentioned, the IPO Fest on Sunday. Joshua plays at 10:30, followed by us as The Great Affairs, closing out the event at 11:15.
The rest of May will be spent prepping an entirely new set for our May 31st show at Exit/In here in Nashville, with Yenisley, Black Market Research and more. We're gonna take this opportunity to bust out a new song or two, and see if they fly. Please don't hesitate to voice your opinion on the matter, that's why we're doing it this way. Since we've stockpiled so much material between the release of the '4' EP and now, mostly because of Kenny & I being tied up in finishing The Die Youngs record, we really need to weed through this stuff to find the right tunes for a followup TGA release. They can't all make the cut, or this will be our 'All Things Must Pass'.
Speaking of The Die Youngs, you can preview the album in its entirety at SOUNDCLOUD, and here are direct links to a few places you can get the 'Nothing's Broken' record, either in digital or physical form:
KOOL KAT MUSIK
Also, for the next 48 hours, if you order any t-shirt design from our STORE, you get a free download card for 'Nothing's Broken', but this offer expires at the end of April, so the clock is ticking.
OK, I've gotta split for a songwriting thing, but hopefully we'll see you out there. Thanks again to everyone who's picked up the new records, and all the kind words about it. A lot of folks busted their tales to get it together, so it's much appreciated.
Be good to yourselves,
THE GREAT AFFAIRS FACEBOOK
THE DIE YOUNGS FACEBOOK
HEARING THINGS BLOG
It's April, and it appears the worst of this oddball Winter is behind us. My lawn is even green, and in spite of the fact that the rain making it possible also means my dog is gonna sleep wrapped around my head until it passes, and I have to strategically place a bucket or two in my basement to catch the output of some unwelcome but modest leaks, I'll take a little downpour over wind chill any day.
In addition to the change of seasons, since the last update Kenny & I have wrapped up work on The Die Youngs(Facebook) record, which will be available worldwide digitally on Tuesday, April 15th via iTunes, and most of the other usual suspects. Right NOW you can grab a physical copy directly from us HERE, or wait around for various other distributors to stock it. Currently, just Co-Op Records in Pekin, IL, and Shandi's Music & More in Canton, IL are carrying it, but CDBaby.com will have copies available for order on street date.
HERE's a link to the first review, from across the pond. 9.5/11…not bad.
We also put in a few miles, heading north to support LA Guns in Canton, with our sub bassist Matt Andersen doing an admirable job of standing in for the absent Henry Go. Patrick & Kenny were scolded by the night clerk at our hotel for being too loud, which they found somewhat perplexing based on the fact that they'd done little more than crack a few purloined dressing room beers, and fire up the microwave. An apology was tendered by the desk in the morning, after it had been determined that our 80s-rocking headliners were still living large in the Super 8, and keeping the neighbors awake, not our crew. After pretty much driving straight from our show in Nashville the night before with Abandon Jalopy & Scalehound, I was blissfully unaware of any of the above even taking place, having slipped into some semblance of a coma the minute my head hit the pillow. I did however get a whiff of something peculiar in the hallway the next morning as we saddled up for the drive home, and it made me hungry for snack food.
Back in town, Henry rejoined us for a mammoth 2-song set at Twin Kegs 70s night, and I took a pass on my frontman gig as he & Kenny handled lead vocals on some ZZTop & Foreigner. Being just a guitar player is such an easy gig.
I wasn't home long before I had to turn around and head back up to Illinois for an acoustic show at The Red Barn and a planned studio session with ex-REO Speedwagon guitarist Gary Richrath, who was laying down guitar tracks on a tune I wrote with Tommy Edwards. Patrick joined me for most of the night, and I tried a couple of new songs out that will most likely end up on the next release. I got paid more than him because my name would have been bigger on the marquee, had there been one.
In the morning, I headed over to Colt Capperrune's Dark River Studio, but Gary's schedule didn't line up with mine and I had to split before he got there to do his parts, so I didn't hear the rough mix 'til the next day, and from note one, it's instantly that identifiable Richrath tone and feel. It's pretty cool to hear one of your childhood guitar heroes playing over your tracks…damn cool, in fact. I'm looking forward to the finished product on this.
I was home for a couple of days, and then it was on a plane to L.A. for a little vacation, where I did a whole lot of nothing but eating too much and drinking just enough to make me question whether or not I was feeling an earthquake. I was. 5.1. Pretty wild.
I sat in with The Lonely Drunks Club band on some Tom Petty & Eric Church tunes at The Viper Room, and aside from some technical hindrances, it was cool to be back on that stage after so many years, especially since so many of the old Best Of Seven crew made it out for the show.
I spent some time in Santa Monica, watching the waves roll in, and finished the trip with some entirely unhealthy pizza from The Rainbow, so my compass is now 100% re-calibrated.
With all that said, here's what up next:
Monday, April 14th @ The Rutledge w/ Mike Tramp of White Lion. This is a stripped-down acoustic gig, just us with acoustics and percussion, but we're taking this opportunity to dust off a couple of songs that this lineup have never played. Tramp will be doing a storytellers-style set that; from what I've seen and read, is extremely cool. Tickets are available HERE
That's it for April, because we're taking the rest of the month to bone up on a few new tunes that we'll be testing out in the live show in the coming months. We've managed to amass a pretty ridiculous mountain of material over the last year or so since '4' was released, so we aim to use you folks as our A&R department in choosing what makes the cut for #5.
May looks like this…so far:
Friday, May 2nd @ John Brown's On The Square in Marion, IL 9PM
Saturday, May 3rd at Goodfella's in Pekin, Il 9PM(w/John Corabi. Acoustic show.)
Sunday, May 4th at The End in Nashville, TN 11:15PM IPO Fest(we'll also be backing up Joshua Ketchmark, whose set is right before ours, at 10:30)
Saturday, May 31st @ Exit/In in Nashville, TN 9PM w/Yenisley, and Nick Britt & Black Market Research
I think that about covers it. As aways , here are all the other pertinent links to peruse, if you feel so inclined:
Hearing Things blog
The Great Affairs FACEBOOK
The Great Affairs OFFICIAL
While we may not have played many shows since our last update, we haven't been idle in the least. I took a quick trip to Vegas with my ladyfriend, to celebrate Valentine's Day in style; spending most of our time testing the endurance of our livers, searching for a single operational KISS slot machine, squandering our life savings, and even catching a private acoustic performance from Queens Of The Stone Age prior to their appearance at The Hard Rock Cafe later that evening.
We came back a little worse for wear, but I went straight to work on finishing up The Die Youngs record at The Switchyard, and we've more or less managed to do just that. 13 songs are ready for mastering, and we'll get on that next week, with an eye towards releasing the album in April. The artwork is 99% finalized, so once we have a slab that meets our exacting standards for sonic excellence, we'll send the goods off to be duplicated in bulk. Stay tuned.
We DID plug in long enough to do another 3-song set for the Woodbine Rocks Tic Tac Toe at Twin Kegs last week, and we'll be doing a couple of songs for their 70s night next week (3/12), if you're in the mood for cheap beer, good burgers, and 9 bands doing their best to revisit the decade that brought us Patrick J. Miller, KISS, and Star Wars.
Before we get around to all that we've got a show this Friday (3/8) at The 5 Spot in East Nashville with Scale Hound and the Blind Melon side project Abandon Jalopy. We play the middle slot on this bill, and we're jazzed to hook up with these guys. Immediately following this show, we've gotta saddle up and drive 8 hours north overnight to make an early load-in at Moore's Pub in Canton, IL, where we'll be opening for LA Guns the next day (3/9). This is a free show, and it starts early at 4PM with Defiance & Plain Jane, our set scheduled for around 7PM, and LA Guns right after. Yeah, FREE. Both of these shows will feature TGA alumni Matt Andersen on bass; subbing for Henry Go, who has another commitment to honor this week. Rest assured, Hank will be back for our Twin Kegs date and beyond.
Once we return to the current decade, and put a bow on the 'Nothing's Broken' record, I'm gonna head BACK up to Central Illinois to do some writing with Tommy Edwards and Gary Richrath for a record they're putting together. Some of you may be familiar with Gary from REO Speedwagon, the band he formed and lead to multi-platinum success in the 70s & 80s. Needless to say, I'm pretty excited to get in a room and throw some ideas around with these guys.
Once I get back from that, I'm headed to Los Angeles for a few days to do a little bit of this and that, and maybe start work on a video for one of the tunes from the new record. More on that later.
I'm sure we'll have some other shows popping up here & there, but for now all we have to worry about in April is getting this release out and into some ears, and a full-band acoustic show at The Rutledge (4/14) with Mike Tramp of White Lion. I'm sure our dance card will look a little different come the end of this month.
Save 10 bucks. You're gonna need it.
p.s. I almost forgot, the Bombshell Crush reissue is finally out; digitally at least, and you can get it at either of the following links:
p.s.s. Please make use of the following links to keep up with me/us(The Great Affairs/The Die Youngs) as well:
Hearing Things (my blog)
The Great Affairs Official
The Great Affairs Facebook
Well, that about wraps up any "assistance" we'll be receiving on the 'Nothing's Broken' project, as the esteemed Michael Webb(pictured above, from behind, as he prefers to be photographed, so as to maintain some degree of anonymity and the luxury of being able to mingle with commoners undetected) put down keys on a revamped "Make It Out", as well as new tunes "Seven Days" and "Just Someone I Used To Know". These three just took a serious leap forward, sonically, with the addition of his parts and the pedal steel overdubs Tony Paoletta did at my place earlier in the week.
The new spin on "Make It Out" is a little more organic, as opposed to what was previously a slightly heavier, "modern rock" treatment, but I'm pretty sure it won't disappoint anyone that was a fan of the original, as it still has plenty of muscle, just with a new twist here and there to let you know it's not your parents' "Make It Out", as they say.
"Seven Days" is a straight-up country ballad that I wrote over a decade ago, but never had much use for in any project I was involved in. I DID cut a version of it 5 or 6 years back, with William Baugh(100 Watt Opera/Valentine Saloon), but that track never saw the light of day, so I'm glad to have Kenny take a crack it it finally. Once we get some solid harmony vocals down(as opposed to the questionable ones we did initially that I just can't get comfortable with), this one will be ready for mixing.
"Just Someone I Used To Know" is a Kenny tune, a midtempo number that calls to mind 70's Petty for me. We trade guitar solos on this number. In fact, mine was SO good that he has to go back and recut his original pass, just to try and keep up....or at least that's what I'm telling myself.
Here are some quick samples of what we've put down so far>>>>
In other news, we headed up to Newport, KY to be part of ClassX Radio's benefit show on February 1st, and got to spend a little time throwing down at The Thompson House. We were spared subzero temperatures and snow on this trek, which was greatly appreciated, seeing as we seem to have very little luck traversing this particular distance without some type of extreme weather impeding our progress to and/or from said destination.
We also got to take part in night #1 of Andy Aquino's birthday bash at The Rutledge. I think we kicked some ass here & there, but, like a tree falling in the woods....
Next up for me is a week-long trip to Las Vegas, where I will be thinking about exactly NONE of this, and worrying instead about which exotic, overpriced cocktail I want to consume whilst observing the parade of humanity that surrounds me. I will undoubtedly come back fiscally broken, but spiritually renewed, and ready to resume my futile efforts to turn song into profit.
The first of such frivolous exercises will take place at The 5 Spot in East Nashville on March 8th, with Abandon Jalopy(Blind Melon side project), and since Henry will be out of town, original TGA bassist Matt Andersen will be playing the part of low end provider...and we might add a second special guest for the evening, if we can manage to align all of our schedules accordingly. El Borracho, anyone?
OK then, that's about it for now, or all I can think of worth blathering on about at the moment at least.
See ya when we see ya....or not....you never know.
I went to the NAMM show, and eyeballed a whole mess of guitars I neither need, nor can I afford...and I listened to people talk; at great length, about all sorts of recording equipment and accessories that I didn't understand. My chicken rice bowl at Baja Fresh was excellent though, and the people-watching was second to none.
I did a photo shoot at a "haunted" mansion/castle....and I slept there too. While my quarters were a little creepy, my 4-day stay was incident-free. Unfortunately, I can't say the same for my cohorts, who may or may not have experienced a little paranormal activity over in their wing of the joint.
I drank entirely too much beer...some of it while I was doing the aforementioned photos, hence the need for the shades I wore in most every shot.
Oh yeah, and I starred in a "horror movie" that was filmed in just under 2 minutes. It should be making the festival rounds later this year, and is almost certain to get distribution and rocket me to stardom.
Just the usual stuff.
OK, folks, here's where we sit with the tracking for the 'Nothing's Broken' record.
We've laid down the bulk of the parts for 13 songs, and 5 of those are now in the mixing phase:
I AM REBORN
DIRTY ON THE STEREO
SOMETHING IN THE AIR
THAT'S MY GIRL
When Kenny & I get back from Los Angeles on the 27th, we'll get MAKE IT OUT, and SEVEN DAYS to Michael Webb and Tony Paoletta for keys and strings, respectively, which will then land them in the "to be mixed" column.
…and that just leaves the following for a few backup vocals, and a couple of minor guitar overdubs before they too are ready for the final spit n' polish:
AS FINE AS YOU ARE
SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE
LET ME GO
SOMEONE I USED TO KNOW
This thing is finally coming together, so look for some sort of preview to appear shortly…a little taste of what this mess is all about.
I hope it's been worth wait. I happen to think it's pretty damn listenable myself.
Well, here I sit, waiting on video to render of things that happened over 20 years ago. Why? I wish I knew. Maybe it's because I just like having something to b#tch about.
Whatever the reason may be, I'm editing(or trying to get the stuff together to)footage of my old band FOXX, to use in a promo clip for an unreleased tune called "So Many Promises" that we dug up on a live board tape from a long-dead club in Pekin, IL called Kopy Kats. I gussied the digital transfer up the best I could with a little mastering, and now I'm attempting to assemble the video side of things so we might have something proper to herald our return to the stage after 20 years of post-hairband rehabilitation. Call it a relapse, a midlife crisis, or just plain nostalgia, but we're dusting off our old attire, letting our remaining healthy follicles do their best to provide us with the tresses that were occasionally able to somewhat camouflage our musical shortcomings, and relearning how to play guitars with pointy headstocks and whammy bars.
More on that whole Rock N' Skull Fest thing later, since it's nearly a year away…..November 15th, 2014…Goodfellas….Pekin, IL…….just FYI.
As for what's been up lately…well, just prior to taking a quick break for the holidays, we played a benefit at Marathon Music Works, here in Nashville, and then headed up to John Brown's in Marion, IL, where the year of gigs that was 2013 was met with a fitting end. Drinks were drank, songs were sung(including a bunch of covers we'd never played before…some KISS, Enuff Z'Nuff, and more KISS…among others) and new friends were made. This is the kind of gig that makes it worth doing after all these years.
When we finally managed to reassemble ourselves for a rehearsal this week, it was evidently much needed. We put together a set for this Friday(1/17) at The End that features at least one longstanding benchwarmer making a return to active play, and we may yet rejigger the rest of the lineup before we actually take the stage, so any diehards in attendance can count on a surprise or two.
Kenny & I have been cutting guitar tracks in my home studio this week, hoping to expedite the final whirlwind round of overdubs we start at The Switchyard on Thursday morning. 6 songs left to sing, some percussion, acoustic parts, and then we shuffle a couple of these off to our trusty lap-steel and piano men for finishing touches, while we begin the process of mixing the rest of this 13-song, years-in-the-making monstrosity. I, for one, will be relieved when it's a wrap, so I can move on to the other record I've had demoed and on deck for the last few months. Once The Die Youngs' "Nothing's Broken" is packaged and available for retail consumption, I plan to set about recording what will either be the next The Great Affairs record, or the first proper Denny Smith release, depending upon how the next few months shake out schedule-wise. One way or another, there is a mess of songs that I need to see recorded properly, before I lose my mind and take up finger-painting.
So, that's about it, I believe….Friday, January 17th at The End.
Saturday, February 1st at Thompson House in
Newport, KY for the ClassX Radio Benefit
February 7th…well, that'll be announced soon, I
... in March we'll be at The 5 Spot, with a guest
bass player subbing for Henry, as we open for
Abandon Jalopy(Blind Melon side-project).
….the children will cry in April…details TBA
…and the overthrow occurs in May, so stay tuned.
In the meantime, Kenny & I are flying to L.A. for a few days, to shake hands and kiss babies, so we can get free stuff like guitar strings and drum heads for a while longer. If we don't spot you Friday, I guess maybe we'll see you when we see you.
The Great Affairs
Links: The Great Affairs Official
FOXX 'So Many Promises' promo clip
Hearing Things(my weekly blog)
Well, since it recently occurred to me that I have neglected to update this page in over 2 months, I would first like to apologize for my lack of diligence, and keeping everyone on the edge of their seats instead of abreast of any and all goings-on hereabouts. I know, it's been a real nail-biter.
But enough sarcasm, let's get down to it.
We played Memphis. It pretty much sucked. We went on last, in a town none of us have played in years, and we reaped the dividends of our extended absence and time slot by playing to the bar staff, and the handful of folks that didn't clear out during or immediately after the "headliner". Sure, a few stragglers wandered in off of Beale, and we got the occasional smattering of polite applause, but I'm just gonna shoot straight and say that it was not a whole lot of fun.
Additionally, we got screwed by the venue's "validated" parking, and the BBQ we got that day was weak. Memphis, you let us down, and it's going in my report.
Next up for us was 50's Night at Twin Kegs, and we plowed through Chuck Berry's "Rock N' Roll Music" and Fats Domino's(by way of Cheap Trick) "Ain't That A Shame". I honestly love playing these things, if for no other reason then it feels like a glorified rehearsal in somebody's man cave that just happens to serve killer cheeseburgers. The folks are all down to earth, and everyone gets along, without a lot of the jockeying and pretense you generally tend to encounter when you try to load a bill with 9 acts and stay on a schedule.
Kudos to the Woodbine Rocks folks for keeping this series running.
From there it was off to Gerstle's in Louisville, where the soundman was just about the only bright spot of the night, and I was all but ready to hang up my rock n' roll shoes on the ride back to Nashville if it meant we had to keep playing gigs like this one.
…and then, we played The Crowded House in Madisonville, KY, stripped down to just our acoustic guitars, a cajon(percussion box) for Kenny, and 3 mics. It was probably the most fun I've had onstage in a long time, and damn near made me forget about the crap-fest that preceded it. I could actually hear myself sing(and think), and our load-in/load-out consisted of a single trip per band member, and took a total of about 5 minutes each way. THAT is how it should be every night. Alas, if you wanna bring the noise, this particular business model will not always suffice.
Shows at The Rutledge in Nashville, The Nick in Birmingham, AL and The Loft in Columbus, GA followed…all successful to various degrees, some less lucrative than others(I'm looking at you, Birmingham), but good times nonetheless, even if Henry's snoring in the hotel may eventually necessitate the rest of us relocating him in his sleep to another wing of the establishment.
November was a slow month for shows, having been set aside for Kenny & I to resume work on our The Die Youngs record. We managed to get into the studio long enough to lay down basic tracks for the final 6 tunes, and I made a pair of return trips to cut guitars, and drop in some programming work I'd done at home. This stuff is sounding great, and some of it is huge with production flourishes that are totally atypical to the material we've done with The Great Affairs. I also get to play a little more lead guitar on this stuff, which I think maybe I kinda miss every now and then, so that's been cool too.
In the midst of all this, tornadoes ripped through The Midwest, and only barely missed both my Mom's and my sister's places, as well as my brother's shop in Washington, IL. Not everyone was so lucky, including a bunch of friends who lost homes, cars, businesses…everything in some cases.
As soon as I wrapped up work at The Switchyard, my buddy Josh and I headed north and I did a set at Goodfellas in Pekin, IL, a town also hit by the storms, as part of a benefit pub crawl that might have been hastily organized, but was extremely successful. I got to see a mess of people I hadn't seen in quite a while and check on/bump into a few survivors in person(SLJ, WTF were you thinking, brother?!?! You don't film INSIDE the tornado?….that said, sweet eye-patch on the news.) Due to curfews, and road closures, we didn't see any of the major damage until Sunday morning, on our way out of town, and to say my mind was blown by the sights would not even begin to cover it. Unforgettable.
While I was in Illinois, I got a call about a possible song pitch needed for a network television program that I happen to be a fan of, that required a made-to-order tune with a rather specific storyline embedded in its lyric. As soon as I got home, and the night before I went back into The Switchyard to finish up the last of my parts, I put together something called "All Along" that may or may not have hit the nail on the proverbial head, but that I was kinda fond of either way, so I took a brief detour to lay it down in the midst of our session, even enlisting my trusty engineer Michael Saint-Leon to knock out a little slide guitar for me. You can hear it <HERE>. Who knows where it'll end up, or if the producers will use it, but I dig it, so whatevs, as the kids say…or do they still say that? I don't know.
As usual, I'm running long here, so let me try to wrap this up. We had to cancel our run to East TN this weekend, thanks to a lovely wave of inclement weather that included ice, sleet, and snow in our direct path. Hopefully we can make up the Knoxville and Bristol dates down the road a piece, once Mother Nature sees fit to make the Cumberland Plateau a little less treacherous.
That leaves us with just 2 more shows for 2013, the For The Philippines With Love benefit show this Thursday the 12th at 7PM, and our year-end finale at John Brown's On The Square in Marion, IL on Friday the 13th.
We intend to go out in style, take a few weeks off for the holidays, and to finish up any remaining studio work(Dave Webb is in Wednesday with us to cut his bass tracks), before we start looking at what we wanna do with 2014. Kenny and I are headed to L.A. for Winter NAMM in January, and we've got a few shows booked through April, so look for those to start popping up on the <SITE> soon enough, as we firm up the details. Other than that, it's business as usual around here..writing, recording, and being really, really good-looking.
If I don't get to say it to you in person, I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.
Be well, citizens.
Since our last update, we've rocked The Crowded House in Madisonville, KY, subtly of course, as we go un-plugged for those folks. We'll be back up that way again in a couple of weeks, with a few new tunes to try out and a different percussion setup in place, as we attempt to perfect our less-amplified presentation a bit more. This might give us a chance to pull out a few tunes that don't otherwise translate so well to the sonic bludgeoning we give them under normal circumstances. Besides, we're looking to get in touch with our sensitive sides, and I'm really a crooner at heart anyway.
Side note(and something I just feel obligated to mention): I'll be fine with not having another pumpkin-flavored beer for at least the next 10 or 11 months. Thank you.
We did a quick 3-song set at The World Famous Twin Kegs, here in Nashville, recently, as part of the very cool Woodbine Rocks Presents: Tic Tac Toe series. We'll be back for their 50s night on October 16th, doing a pair from Fats Domino & Chuck Berry, along with 7 or 8 other acts. It's free, and a f#cking blast, so you should really get down for one of these if you have a chance. We're gonna try to be involved with as many of these as we possibly can.
Thanks to Colin & Trinity for inviting us.
I got the chance to do some writing with my old bandmate Lee Coram, and a couple of sessions have yielded some interesting results. It doesn't sound like The Great Affairs, but it doesn't NOT sound like us either. I dig it. We'll see what happens when a singer gets ahold of it. So far, so good.
We headed up north to play John Brown's in Marion, IL, where I had an unusually "off" night…too much on my mind and not enough in my belly perhaps. We rallied a bit towards the end, and folks made us feel welcome, in spite of our lackluster showing, but I've made a promise to myself that we will absolutely rip the roof off of that place when we close out our 2013 there on December 13th, so to anyone reading this that made the show last weekend, I hope you'll please accept my sincere apologies, and allow us to rectify the situation in 2 months time. We'll play 'til one of us drops if we have to.
This weekend we're off to Memphis, to play The Hard Rock Cafe on Beale Street with Ezell. This will be our first stop in Memphis in over 2 years, so we're pretty stoked to start rebuilding a relationship with the good folks down yonder. It's been too long.
In other news, I submitted a bunch of old film footage, some going as far back as my high school "battle of the bands" for an indie film project that will focus on the close call with success(or lack thereof) of my old band Best Of Seven, and chart the trajectories of the individual members in the years since our official disbanding. I haven't seen any of it yet, but I know the guy behind it, and he's no slouch in the filmmaking department, so I trust him to make us look like no bigger a**holes than we actually are/were.
Finally, a bit of news on the "new record(s)" front…we're starting to assemble the tunes that should make up what will be the 5th proper release from The Great Affairs. As yet untitled, it should include some, if not all of the following:
CALIFORNIA(TURN TO STONE)
THE NEXT THREE MINUTES
STAY ALL NIGHT
THE EYES IN EVERY ROOM
A SECRET'S A SECRET
I CAN'T SLEEP ALONE
MAKE YOU SMILE
IT'S ALL IN THE LIVIN'
Now, some of you may recognize a title or two from the demos that I used circulate via this site every month or so, both on this list and the one below. That one is(as of this writing, at least), the final lineup for the "Nothing's Broken" record Kenny & I have been working on in our spare time for the last year or so, with a supporting cast of fairly reputable characters that have really brought some magic to the thing.
Right now, this record is about 60% done. In fact, some of it is completely mixed and mastered, but we have a handful of sessions left yet, to cut the remaining few tracks and wrap up overdubs and mixing on the stuff we already have in the can. It's close, and feeling a little closer now that we've settled on this as the final selection.
I've been listening to the roughs for months now, and I'm really proud of this stuff. I can't wait to get it out there, so hopefully we can get down to it and nudge it along to the finish line before the end of the year. The next TGA will follow shortly thereafter. It's already completely demoed, save 1 or 2 tunes that I'll get to as soon as my schedule permits….and I was telling Kenny yesterday as we were demoing a pair of new ideas he brought in that I feel there are still a few new songs that have yet to reveal themselves. Once those materialize, we'll head into the studio and start hammering this stuff together proper.
But, back to the "Nothing's Broken" project….here's how that is shaking out:
I AM REBORN
LET ME GO
SOMETHING IN THE AIR
THAT'S MY GIRL
DIRTY ON THE STEREO
AS FINE AS YOU ARE
JUST SOMEONE I USED TO KNOW
MAKE IT OUT(yeah…we're gonna put a little spin on this)
SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE
I think that's all I've got that I can share at the moment. Here's a list of shows we have coming up in October/early November, before we take some time to knuckle down on all this new stuff/studio business>>>>
Wednesday, October 16th @ Twin Kegs(50's Night) Nashville, TN
Friday, October 18th @ Gerstle's in Louisville, KY
Saturday, October 19th Un-plugged @ The Crowded House in Madisonville, KY
Friday, November 1st @ The Nick in Birmingham, AL
Saturday, November 2nd at The Loft in Columbus, GA
p.s. Here are all the usual LINKS:
<My Morton Times "Hearing Things" blog>
<The "official" The Great Affairs page >
< The Great affairs on Facebook >
Here we are, folks….September. We're nearly 3/4s of the way through 2013, and I can't seem to recall; without actually going back through my calendar and putting the pieces together, just exactly how we got this far into the year without losing a band member(quick, somebody knock on wood). We might have set some kind of record with this stretch. In addition, we've actually probably played more shows this year(27 at this writing) than we've played in quite a while, which might go a long way towards explaining why the band is starting to sound slightly seasoned on occasion. We started the year off with the release of '4', and while we're still out pimping that collection here, there, and anywhere that will have us, songs are starting to come together for what will most likely NOT be called '5', but what will in fact be the 5th proper release from The Great Affairs. It might be another EP, or we could go the distance on this one, and spring a full LP on the unsuspecting masses. It really just depends on what we cook up. Personally, I feel like the bar is set kinda high, and I'd really rather not deliver anything that doesn't outdo our previous work, so please be patient if those restrictions prove a hindrance where timely delivery is concerned. Like a fine wine, ya know?
But enough selling you what's (supposedly)next, here's what's actually happened lately.
Newport, KY, just over the river from Cincinnati, OH…The Southgate House…we took over the lounge for the evening. I'm not gonna lie and say we packed the place this time, but we did give it everything we had, throwing down 40 songs spread over two sets, for those that did come out. We played a few things we had never played before, and brought back a handful of tunes that had not seen the light of stage in years. In spite of the questionable attendance, I thought this was one of our better shows, and while doing 3.5 hours essentially straight through(we took a 10 minute break at the midway point) can play hell on the voice, we didn't give an inch, and stood tall for the full 40 on the list. To those of you that stuck it out with us, we are grateful…especially to the kind soul who brought us that goody bag full of coffee and brownies. You may well have saved our lives on the drive home with that caffeine. Bless you, ma'am.
Marathon sets behind us for a bit, Henry headed in for his sinus surgery, emerging a masked man for our show in Nashville at The End, refusing to be stopped by a mere broken nose and nostrils full of gauze and saline solution.
The next day, we had an outdoor show in Clarksville, celebrating the grand opening of our friends Jason & Patty Yates' Wicked Good Sandwiches. Henry ditched the mask for this one, seeing as breathing and singing in 90º heat was gonna be next to impossible with his MJ look happening. He did however wrap Patrick in a blanket and dangle him from a balcony later, after they'd both had a few drinks.
The Nugget made an appearance. He's kinda famous, so I got his autograph.
Brando didn't care…he slept under the trailer for most of the show.
I spent the next couple of days tracking some new tunes here at Pastry Park, before taking a 4-day sabbatical in Las Vegas. I lost a bunch of money but gained some much needed peace of mind. While I was there, my ex-TGA bandmate Lee "El Borracho" Coram contacted me about doing some writing, so we'll be exploring that possibility this week. Lee & I have completely different approaches to crafting a tune, but they always seem to align well, so I have high hopes for this round of collaboration. Where the product of this union might land is anyone's guess.
On the horizon, show-wise…wait, let me crack this beer…….aaahh, O'Fallon's Pumpkin Ale….smooth……here's what we have coming up:
Friday, September 6th The Crowded House in Madisonville, KY 7:30-9:30(we're doing two hours of full-band acoustic stuff….this place is badass, and the food is great…plus, you never know where these acoustic things might take us…last time we surprised ourselves. Oh yeah, and it's free.)
Wednesday, September 18th Twin Kegs in Nashville, TN 8:30-Midnight (Woodbine Rocks: 9 bands doing 3 songs each. Not sure what slot we'll have yet..just confirmed this today. Stay tuned for details.)
Friday, September 27th John Brown's On The Square in Marion, IL 9PM(3 sets at one of the coolest little rock clubs we've encountered in a while. We're looking to rip the roof off this time, and we've been tweaking the set a bit to facilitate such structural modifications. Southern Illinois, you have been warned. Also FREE.)
Saturday, September 28th ????still working on this…possibly St. Louis, MO or another Illinois date…we're still open, if anyone has a suggestion. Hit us up.
October will have us in Memphis, Louisville, and back to Madisonville, with a few gaps to fill between now and then.
As always, here are the pertinent links to keep up with me/us elsewhere:
My Times Newspaper Blog (I rant on various subjects.)
The Great Affairs on FaceBook
The Great Affairs "official" site
p.s. I posted a snippet of a new solo tune "Dirty On The Stereo" in the audio player. Click on that to hear a preview of the stuff I've been working on.
I'm back, from a near-weeklong excursion to the West Coast that saw me play 3 shows in 2 days, go swimming at a haunted castle, and finally; after years of hoping it would finally happen, spotting Kato Kaelin.
I got in Wednesday morning, shuttled to the car rental place, and started my trek into Hollywood, on a route that my GPS apparently thought might imbue me with a little culture, as it took me through some very diverse ethnic regions of Los Angeles that I had never before acquainted myself with.
With that little adventure behind me, I headed over to Barney's Beanery in Burbank to collect the keys to my temporary accommodations, staying long enough to have a couple of beers with my buddy Mike J. Nichols, who you may remember as the director/editor of the "Sherrybaby" video we shot with Darrell Frasier.
I always feel most at home in Burbank, since I spent the better part of 2 or 3 years wandering its streets, killing time between rehearsals, gigs, songwriting sessions, and photo shoots, while I was in Best Of Seven. I couldn't even tell you how many movies I must've seen at the AMC theaters there, or how many cheap quesadillas I ate at that Del Taco on Verdugo. It might've been just a step up from Ramen Noodles, but I loved/love that crap. My wallet's (a little) fatter these days, so I spring for In N' Out when the mood strikes, although I sampled neither delicacy on this trip, sadly.
I did manage to get 3 of the 5 members of Best Of Seven MKII together for an acoustic rehearsal that night:myself, Joshua Ketchmark, and Shane Tassart, and we got to run through what would become our set for Friday night's IPO performance at Molly Malone's. Here's a clip of us hacking our way through an initial run-through of Cheap Trick's "I Can't Take It">>>
Thursday night, I played a short set at The Sunset Strip Market, in the big lot next to what was once the Tower Records on Sunset. I got to catch up with a bunch of folks I hadn't seen in a while, and most of us continued the festivities up the road a piece at Pink Taco, where entirely too many Margaritas were ingested, resulting in the hatching of a mad, yet intriguing plan that was (probably) fortunately scuttled in favor of a pool day. Maybe next time, BGDs.
Friday night, Best Of Seven opened night #1 of the Los Angeles IPO Fest, and I followed shortly thereafter with a solo set, slightly adjusted from the previous evening's to better suit the occasion. After taking in a couple of other acts on the bill, some of us hit The Rainbow for some pizza, where my hosts decided they'd have enough of the festivities and opted to take a nap before we'd even cleaned our plates. Yeah, true story…see>>>>(not staged…took three tries to catch them both out.)
BEST OF SEVEN AT MOLLY MALONE'S
Saturday, well, we took the subway down Hollywood Blvd., and started a long bar crawl back up to the apartment that involved moonshine. As a result, I don't remember much else about the afternoon.
Sunday went something like this: Mimosas. Breakfast Tacos. Castle. Corona. Pool. Pizza. Sunburn. Sleep.
Monday I drove out to Santa Monica Pier, grabbed a burger at Tin Horn Flats, experienced my Kato sighting, and took in the Lucy's 51 jam night hosted by James Lomenzo, Kenny Aronoff, and Brent Woods, where I met Paulie Z.>>>
from the show Z Rock. Nice guy. There were a mess of 80s cats on hand: Frankie Banali, Oni Logan, Jimmy D'Anda, Chuck Wright, Phil Soussan, and more, and several of them got up for a song or two, but we had to spilt midway through, since I had an early flight out in the morning, and the rest of my crew were pretty much dead on their feet.
Back in Nashville, we got asked to do a last-minute support slot for Alien Ant Farm on Monday night. 24 hours notice, no rehearsal, with their backline rammed up our asses, but we pulled it off I think, if a little rough around the edges.
We were under-rehearsed simply because we've been putting all of our effort into working up a gang of new material for the upcoming shows…a few cool covers we've been wanting to try,as well as some stuff from our back catalog that we've either never played live, or been overlooking the last couple of years…stuff from the second TGA LP "Ricky Took The Wheels", as well as a couple of BO7 and Bombshell Crush tunes that we thought might translate with this lineup. Those will start showing up in the very near future if they shape up accordingly.
Speaking of upcoming shows, here's what is on tap over the next month or so:
FRIDAY, AUGUST 17TH SOUTHGATE HOUSE -NEWPORT, KY(CINCINNATI) FREE LOUNGE SHOW 10PM
FRIDAY, AUGUST 23RD THE END - NASHVILLE, TN W/ANDERSON LAYNE & THE KILLER SAINTS, AND ABERNATHY 8PM (WE OPEN THIS ONE, SO GET THERE EARLY.)
SATURDAY, AUGUST 24TH CLARKSVILLE, TN FREE OUTDOOR SHOW, SPECIAL EVENT. DETAILS TBA. WATCH OUR (FACEBOOK PAGE) FOR THE SCOOP. 1PM
Vegas….not a gig, just going there for a few days….I'll probably come back, because we have these ones coming up too >>>>
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 6TH CROWDED HOUSE - MADISONVILLE, KY FREE SHOW. FULL BAND ACOUSTIC SET FROM 7:30-9:30PM THIS PLACE IS KILLER!
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 27TH JOHN BROWN'S ON THE SQUARE - MARION, IL 9PM
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 28TH TBA(TENTATIVE ST. LOUIS AREA DATE)
I think that's about it for now, sorry for rambling, but if you enjoy such loquaciousness, please click (">HERE) to check out my blog for The Times Newspapers. I rant about all kinds of trivial crap, twice a week on the average.
See you out there, I hope….more dates coming soon, so check the (CALENDAR)…Louisville, Bristol, Columbus, Knoxville, and more.
We pulled a double shift in Knoxville a couple of weeks ago, with a stripped-down set in The Preservation Pub's upstairs "Speakeasy", followed by a full-on electric set in the "Smokeasy" downstairs. Both sets came off without a hitch, and we stuck around to enjoy a few drinks, and the musical stylings of our Knoxville brethren Far Far Away, who whipped a caribou's ass, as the late Wesley Willis would almost certainly have assessed.
We crashed in Kodak, TN, just long enough to feel human before room service repeatedly harangued us into leaving ALMOST on time.
We headed up the road to Bristol, where we were scheduled to play later that evening at O'Mainnin's, and spent most of the day wandering downtown, raiding pawn shops, and being made to feel uncomfortable in a billiards hall that didn't seem to want us partaking of our adult beverages on their premises, as we might disrupt a tournament going on some 50 feet away.
Whatever. I was just happy to rifle through my rare CD haul while those burly ladies squared off.
The gig was cool. We played outdoors, on a stage that had bats swarming around it once night descended. Luckily, the racket we made served as adequate deterrent, and none of us were actually attacked by said winged, nocturnal predators.
The place had some interesting folklore attached, imparted to us during soundcheck by the bar manager. Tales of multiple murders, and subsequent ghostly encounters…pretty cool stuff. We're headed back in December, to play INSIDE, in closer quarters to said goings-on. I'll file a full report, barring any demonic possession, or spectral encounter that may result in the loss of my faculties. Also, if I should piss my pants, that will go unmentioned in my account.
Next, we headed north to Marion, IL, where we played a new favorite, John Brown's On The Square. Unassuming little joint, with killer decor, great sound, and an amazing beer selection…..but the true gold in this place is the crew behind it…and the folks on hand to partake in the music are a rare breed too. We had to cram ourselves onto a tiny stage to make them some noise, but those were the most comfortable cramped confines I've ever squeezed into, because the place is just alive with good vibes. I almost hated to leave, and we're looking forward to getting back up that way in late September. Hats off to John Brown, the man.
From there, we trucked another 250 miles to Creve Coeur, IL, for a set at Trendz, to close out their Slash after-party. My good buddy Dan Sego arrived post-Slash to spruce up our mix, and we gave everything we had until it was time for the DJ to take over for the after-hours crowd. I think I even played a bit of FOXX by request. The legend never dies.
I got to see a few folks I hadn't seen in a while…missed you guys, and we left town short one man, as Patrick stayed behind to visit family and celebrate his daughter's birthday.
This week, the Summer NAMM convention is in town, so Kenny, Henry, & I are hitting the D'Addario pre-party tonight, and we'll probably walk the show floor at some point this weekend, checking out a whole mess of stuff we don't need and probably couldn't afford if we did.
Oh yeah, and it's Henry's bday this weekend…but he'll be in Minneapolis 'til Sunday. He's 27..again.
In two weeks, I'm taking off for Los Angeles to do a pair of shows, one at The Sunset Strip Market, and the other at Molly Malone's, before enjoying a few days of doing absolutely nothing I don't want to do, before I return to Nashville, and get back to work on finishing up a handful of recording projects.
Speaking of which, I went in last week and cut the vocals on a pop track that I had originally intended to go no further than the archives, but it turned out so good that it may actually surface at some point, either on a new TGA release, or some other type of outlet…in short, I think this new batch of material is shaping up well, so there is probably something on the horizon besides just this record Kenny & I have been slogging through for the last several months. If the first few tunes are any indication, it's going to be a very different kind of record, and cover a lot of bases…going places sonically that we've certainly never gone before as The Great Affairs. OR, we might ditch all that stuff and make a straight-up rock n' roll album….it's too soon to tell. I'm stoked though, either way, but that might just be because I just pounded an energy drink and I know I have a vacation coming up. Hard to say.
For now, we're off the grid as a band until August, but for the time being(meaning until next week), you can still get the expanded version of '4' for free at this link: http://noisetrade.com/thegreataffairs/45 It includes the KISS and Fleetwood Mac covers we cut recently.
Alright then, I'm out. See you in August…or later this month, if you live in the L.A. area.
p.s. Here's a picture of Gary Belcher in a drum case....just because.
Since we last spoke(virtually, of course), we've been to Cincinnati and back, playing a long one at The Southgate House Lounge beset with some logistical and audio issues that made it something of a struggle, but to those of you that soldiered on with us, thank you very much, because YOU got us through it. We hope to be back up that way again before Summer's end, under better circumstances.
The new t-shirt design(merch) has been a hit, which has dramatically improved our previously-shaky bottom line and righted our finances substantially, so we may be back in the studio before too long, to crank out a new batch of stuff for the kind of folk that still look forward to such things. I do, for whatever it's worth.
Where else have we been? Columbus, GA. Had a good time at a new stop for us called The Loft. This place was top notch. The staff were entirely too good to us, which made the long haul to and fro a passing concern. We're due back in November. In the meantime, I will be upping my workouts to prepare for the rigorous demands of the load-in, or hiring a migrant worker at a nearby gas station to hump my gear up their stairs. I'm too old for that business.
This past weekend, we were slated to perform outdoors at the West Nashville Block Party, revisiting our stop there last year. Unfortunately, Mother Nature decided to piss all over that shindig, about an hour prior to the time we were due to take the stage. Undaunted, we dragged whatever we needed to make noise into British Audio Service, while their crew set up a makeshift sound system, and we just moved what was left of the attendees to a weatherproof locale, for a scaled-back hoedown. It turned out to be a righteously good time. We scrapped our set list, in favor of playing whatever the hell we felt like playing, or whichever song titles were shouted the loudest and most frequently. You can read more about all that here: Hearing Things, A Times Blog
This week we're off to Knoxville, for what boils down to 3 shows in 2 clubs, over 2 nights. Friday, June 28th we're playing an acoustic set upstairs at Preservation Pub, around 9, before we move downstairs to play the middle slot(plugged-in) on the main stage. Our friends in Far Far Away put this one together, so we'll be joining them and another great Knoxville-area act called Ravenhill. I'm really looking forward to this one. From there, we roll up the road 120 miles or so to do a 4 set, all-nighter at O'Mainnin's Pub in Bristol, TN on the 29th. This will be our first time in Bristol, so if you've got folks up in that area, please pass the word along. Thank you kindly.
In July, we've got 2 Illinois dates…the 5th in Marion at John Brown's On The Square, and the 6th at Trendz in Creve Coeur, where we'll be headlining the official "Slash after-party". I'm hoping to see a few faces I've missed over the last couple of years. It's been a long time since Patrick & I have brought the whole gang up that way, so please don't let us down, or Henry & Kenny will think we have no friends back home, and probably start asking for a bigger cut of the proceeds, based on our overall lack of popularity.
We're off for a few weeks after those shows, but we'll be working on a few things while we're away, and building a better mousetrap, so to speak, AND I'll be off on my own for a pair of shows on the West Coast, including an acoustic show on Thursday, July 25th, 7PM at the Sunset Strip Market. The next night I'm playing a set at 7PM(Friday the 26th) at Molly Malone's in Hollywood, with my former Best Of Seven bandmates Shane Tassart & Joshua Ketchmark, and I'll also be doing a solo set there at 9PM, so get there early, and stick around for the double shot.This is the kickoff of a week-long+ International Pop Overthrow Festival, Los Angeles edition, so there should be a mess of great bands on the bill that night.
I think that's about all for now…more as things develop. I'm still waiting to hear more of the Tommy Edwards tracks I worked on, as he gets closer to wrapping up his parts with the engineer…and Kenny & I are still working as diligently as our schedules will allow to get the "Nothing's Broken" record closer to the finish line. All in due time, I swear.
Cheers, and happy pre-4th Of July…..see you all soon,
Things are about to get a bit busier around here, for the next couple of months, so I'm gonna do my best to drop in some more regular updates as we roll along.
Last weekend, we played a technically-plagued set at The Rutledge that presented us with a few bumps in the road that we somewhat-ably maneuvered around...for the most part. Someone was filming(including the "Mexican Radio" debacle of my amplifier broadcasting Mariachi tunes throughout "How Does It Feel"), so I present to you The Great Affairs running through KISS's "Hard Luck Woman" live.
This past Saturday, we made our maiden voyage to Madisonville, KY to knock around a 2 hour acoustic set at The Crowded House.
Great joint. Cool folks. Good times.
We played a mess of new stuff for the first time, and made a few new friends who twisted our arms into doing 2 or 3 more that weren't actually on our set-list, but; being recognized professionals(that's right), we were able to deliver the goods(except for Pantera, which I'm not sure would have translated in the acoustic setting had I known the lyrics or chord progression to a single one of their tunes anyway). What we did play looked a little something like this:
SICK FOR LOVE
HARD LUCK WOMAN
NEEDLES AND PINS
STUCK IN THE MIDDLE
MAKE IT OUT
CHANGE OF HEART
SHAME ON YOU
TAKE IT ON THE RUN
ISN'T SHE GOLD
I CAN'T TAKE IT
I WANT YOU TO WANT ME
HOW DOES IT FEEL
LIE TO ME
GO YOUR OWN WAY
LITTLE RED CORVETTE
CUTS LIKE A KNIFE
Like I said, pretty much anything goes at these shows...CHEAP TRICK, REO SPEEDWAGON, KISS, MELLENCAMP, BRYAN ADAMS, PRINCE, STEALER'S WHEEL, TOM PETTY, FLEETWOOD MAC...You never know what we might attempt.
Southgate House, you're up next this Saturday, June 8th. 10PM until the cows come home, or thereabouts.
In the meantime, I'm off to commence work on another track for the Tommy Edwards record.
Well, seeing as it's been roughly a month since the last update, I figured I ought to drop in on you folks that keep up with us here, and let you know we're still alive.
We've been off for a few weeks, our last gig being 3 Brothers Deli in Murfreesboro, which turned out to be a cool night. It was a bit snug on their stage, but we made it work, I think. We closed the evening, so we got to play a little longer set than usual, which is something that looks to be the theme for our next month or two of dates. As such, in our time off from gigging, we've thrown ourselves into the task of boning up on some of the back catalog that we've either never played or been overlooking since adding the '4' material to the set. Along with digging into our own vaults, we've worked up a few new cover tunes that may or may not be familiar to the public at large, to help us fill out a few of the significantly longer nights we have ahead of us.
But first, we headline a little show at The Rutledge in Nashville this Friday(5/24), with the utterly badass Black Shag opening up, and the countrified rock & soul stylings of The August in the middle slot. We've been looking forward to this bill for a while, so please try to make it out. This one's gonna kill. Doors at 8.
The following Saturday(6/1), we're headed up to The Crowded House, in Madisonville, KY, for a 2-hour full-band acoustic show. We play from 7:30-9:30, which means we'll be back in Nashville in time for a nightcap. Perfect.
Then we're off to Cincinnati/Newport on June 8th for a full night in The Southgate House lounge(3 sets/FREE/we kick off at 10 sharp), right after these new t-shirts arrive. By the way, you can pre-order these now, from our store page: http://dennysmithmusic.com/store/ , and as soon as they arrive at "headquarters", I will personally see to it that yours is packaged and out the door ASAP.
Speaking of orders, I've added a link to buy the 2 compilation CDs we sell at shows, "fORMERLY" and "First Good Memories", so anyone new to The Great Affairs wanting a relatively cheap way to catch up can grab these things, which are available exclusively through the band, as a set.
Back to shows in June…
June 15th The Loft Columbus, GA Again, 3 sets. 10PM
June 22nd BRITISH AUDIO OUTDOOR ANNIVERSARY BASH(Nashville). We headline this year, a parking lot party on Charlotte Ave., in front of B.A. and New Life Records, across from The Great Escape. Free. Details TBA.
June 28th Preservation Pub Knoxville, TN w/Ravenhill, and Far far Away. This one is gonna be a blast. We do double duty with a 1-hour acoustic set upstairs in the SpeakEasy around 8, followed by a full-band electric set downstairs in The SmokeEasy around 10 or so.
June 29th O'Mainnin's Pub Bristol, TN FOUR sets 10PM Our first time in Bristol. Also our first time doing that many songs in one show. I'm glad we have the next day off.
That's it for June, but before I get to what's going on in July, I wanna mention an artist I'm working with by the name of Tommy Edwards. Tommy sings for a Central Illinois-based band called Bubblegum Jack, but he's been working on a solo project recently, for which I've contributed a handful of new songs. Tommy is a phenomenal vocalist, and he's done a great job of bringing this first one to life. Check out "If You Stay": http://www.reverbnation.com/bubblegumjackb
I produced the tracks right here at Pastry Park, save for vocals and some overdubs done at Dark River Studios in Peoria,IL by Mr. Colt Capperune, who also did a bang-up job of mixing it.
There's plenty more where this one comes from, so stay tuned.
Speaking of new tunes, click on the audio player to check out the first mix of "I Am Reborn" from the "Nothing's Broken" record Kenny & I have been working on in our spare time. This one was written by Chris Carmichael, and it was an honor to get to sing this, as it's been a favorite of mine for years. Guests on this include Dave Webb on bass, Nick Nguyen on lead guitars and violin, and Heather Luttrell on backing vocals. I'll leave this up for a few days, but it'll be coming down sooner than later, so get some while you can.
OK, this is running long, so here's what July looks like at the moment.
July 5th, John Brown's On The Square Marion, IL 8PM 3 sets.
July 6th Trendz Creve Coeur,IL 8PM Patrick & I get to play for our hometown(or close to it) crowd, finally. Brent Stortzum band opens up. We play 'til they make us stop.
July 25th tentative TBA, Los Angeles, CA…I have the details on this acoustic show, but I'm waiting for some specifics about just who will be playing with me before I post any more info. Stay tuned.
July 26th Molly Malone's Hollywood, CA I'm playing an acoustic set with my old Best Of Seven bandmates Shane & Joshua at 7PM, and then a TGA acoustic set at 9PM, as part of The International Pop Overthrow Festival.
OK, I think that's it. As always, you can keep up with us at http://www.facebook.com/thegreataffairs & http://www.thegreataffairs.com (where you can currently hear 2 new covers we cut recently, from Fleetwood Mac & KISS), and of course my semi-regular rants for The Times Newspapers are available here: http://www.mortontimesnews.com/section/blogs01?taxid=878
Until next time, be good to each other…and yourselves.
Well, folks, here's what's been up, and what's about to go down.
We played Southgate House in Newport, KY/Cincinnati, OH, and had another great show there. "Sherrybaby" is getting some spins in that market via the cats at ClassX radio 88.9/89.1FM. We shot some stuff with Les, one of their DJs, for a commercial, and I sent in some promo liners the following week, so we're well taken care of in that area. They've even started spinning our cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Go Your Own Way" once in a while. Cheers to Les & Jim for the support, and the lovely Ms. Levan for hooking us up with them.
Louisville, KY was next on the itinerary, and although Henry & I were more than a little under the weather, we pushed through it and actually ended up having a good night. Like Cincy, we met a bunch of great new people, moved a mess of mercy, and got some great shots of the band, courtesy of our buddy Kari ( http://karibellephotography.com/ ) from Bardstown, who made the trek up to finally introduce himself in person. We hope to get back up that way soon, so to those of you that caught us under less-than-ideal conditions, we promise we'll bring our "A" game for the next round.
This Saturday, we're in Murfreesboro,TN at the new 3 Brothers Deli and Brewhouse location, with Mike Mason and Sunracer. The show kicks off early at 8, and we're on shortly thereafter, 9-ish or so. We've had a week off to get ourselves healthy, so that nonsense should be behind us by the time we roll up on this one.
From there, we're off for a few weeks, while Kenny & I work on mixing some of this new record we've been toiling on for what seems like forever. I swear to you that it is in fact taking a recognizable shape, and honestly, there are a good handful of tunes that are just a final mix away from being ready for the world. Keep your eyes on this site and our Facebook page ( www.facebook.com/thegreataffairs ) for news…and maybe another preview track soon.
Finally, at the end of May, things will get moving on the live front again with a local show, at The Rutledge, with our friends The August and a killer new band out of Nashville called Black Shag. We're headlining this one, so maybe we'll go a little longer than usual, and try a new tune or two that we've been working on.
Post-Nashville, it's all road stuff for June and July, at least as far as my calendar is telling me.
June 1st we're doing a 2 hour full band acoustic performance at The crowded House in Madisonville,KY.
June 7th tentative TBA
June 8th Southgate House in Newport, KY(Cincinnati) FREE Lounge Show 10PM-1:30AM
June 14th TBA
June 15th we're at The Loft in Columbus, GA..our first time at this joint.
June 22nd TBA
June 28th we're playing the downstairs at Preservation Pub in Knoxville, TN with Far Far Away, Tame The Hurricane, and Ravenhill. We hit around 10, but we're also doing an acoustic set in the Speakeasy upstairs around 8 or so.
June 29th we're at O'Mainnin's in Bristol, TN…another first time 'round for us, and a long night here as well, earning our money by pulling out everything we know, and then some.
July has us on the road north to Marion & Creve Coeur, IL, and then a quick run out to California to play Molly Malone's in Hollywood for the International Pop Overthrow Fest, and probably a few dates along the way, in and around L.A…more details on that as we get things firmed up.
As always, keep checking my Times blog "Hearing Things" at this link:
for stuff vaguely related to the band, and occasionally unrelated to anything resembling coherent thought.
See you around,
So, here's what's been going on as of late….
We played Preservation Pub in Knoxville,TN last weekend, upstairs, in The Speakeasy. Now, we tend to struggle a bit with our volume in this room, which is usually reserved for acts of a less-aggressive nature, BUT, upon the advice of our Far Far Away brethren in attendance, we kicked it up a notch in the home stretch and probably did ourselves a favor by letting go of any concerns we had about offending anyone. In fact, in the hour or two we spent hanging out afterwards, drinking beer and noshing on our complimentary pizzas, we were each asked repeatedly when we were going to resume playing, so I guess anyone we rankled had skipped out earlier.
And speaking of having pissed folks off, with Henry at the controls during what passes for soundcheck when we have to do our own, the staff and earliest happy hour-goers(along with us) were treated to a generous ear-gouging burst of feedback that incensed one shit-hammered redneck to repeatedly refer to us as a "high school" band. Clint, as I'd like to imagine his parents named him, had been discussing his generous endowment and the fact that he'd "been thrown out of better places than this" for the duration of our load-in, and was already a source of mild, yet distant irritation. The high school comment brought him into a more immediate focus, and I was fairly certain Henry was going to walk over and give him a Hulk/Loki-style thrashing, a la "The Avengers" at any minute. Alas, and probably to our ultimate advantage, he did not. (Amazing side note: This drunk idiot was STILL standing at 11PM…some 5 hours after we had first made note of his advanced state of inebriation…..here's to hoping he drove himself home, along a lonely country road lined with tall, sturdy trees and sharp ravines. Cheers.)
The night before, we played a set at The Rutledge in Nashville, TN, and got to witness an awesome post-show altercation between what appeared to be the love child of Jon Bon Jovi and Chris Jericho vs. his would-be sugar mama, all stemming from a rather sizable bar tab he had accumulated on her plastic. Various insults to his manhood and lack of gainful employment were bandied about during her tirade, and I'd be hard-pressed to deny that their blowout wasn't the highlight of the show.
Since these excursions, I've been holed up in Pastry Park Studio, toiling away on a handful of new song demos, some of which are actually not "new" ideas, but rather ones that have been dusted off for recent acoustic shows, where they received the kind of response that made me think maybe they might be ready to leave the bench. So, this week has been devoted to tracking "I Can't Sleep Alone", "The Ride", "All In The Livin'", "California(Turn To Stone)", "Too Far Gone", and "The Fear". What will become of these is, as usual, anyone's guess, but I hope to have them all done and mixed by the end of next week.
In the meantime, we head off to Cincinnati this week, to play Southgate House(actually in Newport, KY) on Sunday(4/7), assuming I survive the bachelor party I'm attending/chaperoning on Friday.
The next gig on the books will be our Louisville debut at Gerstle's, with Digby on Saturday, April 13th. Louisville folks, please spread the word on this one for us. We get a longer set here..an hour to an hour & a half, so we'll probably take this opportunity to try out a few tunes that don't often see(or haven't yet seen) the light of day.
A couple of weeks off, and we're in Murfreesboro at 3 Brothers Deli, and then we have some down time while Kenny does a few Bonepony gigs, I do some producing for another artist, and we both get back to work on the "Nothing's Broken" record whenever we can. I got some great guitar tracks back from my buddy Don Mabus, who is playing on 2 or 3 tunes, and we had some pedal steel cut for the title track while we were working on the Joshua Ketchmark record, so that album is slowly coming together, a piece at a time.
June sees us in Columbus, GA, & Bristol, TN, with a handful of tentatives awaiting confirmation..and July will have us in Marion, IL, Creve Coeur, IL, Los Angeles, CA…and several points in between here and the West Coast, once we get those nailed down…stay tuned.
Currently listening to: Trinity James "Baby"…good guy, cool record…think an unholy union of The Strokes & Bon Jovi….yeah, it's like that.
Good flick: A Beginner's Guide To Endings…Harvey Keitel, J.K. Simmons…just watch it.
I realized this weekend, in the midst of overzealous basketball fans and too many artificially colored holiday beverages inspired by the Emerald Isle, that I may have once again been somewhat lax in my updating of the site. That's not to say we haven't been busy, quite the contrary in fact.
(off subject: MTV's Teen Mom 2 is on as I type this, and that Jenelle chick has to be one of the poorest excuses for a human being allowed face time on a nationally televised program. I'm pretty sure I just heard her say she hasn't seen her son much lately because she has been "getting ready for her breast implant surgery". What exactly does that consist of? Saying goodbye to her original cans? Buying new bras? Stocking up on frozen vegetable packets to help with the inevitable post-op swelling? I applaud her for showing such responsibility. I'm sure that toddler can make his own dinner anyway. Why does he need his mom around? Besides, Grandma has custody anyway, and this investment is clearly key to eventually getting him back. No child should have a flat-chested mother. It's common knowledge that judges take cup size into consideration when custody disputes arise.)
Sorry about that…I guess I just really miss that RJ Berger show, about the high school kid with the abnormally huge hog in his trousers. Scripted, yeah, but infinitely easier to buy as a somewhat accurate portrayal of 21st century teenage life….or at least that's what i'd like to believe.
Anyhoo, here's what's been going on since our last update.>>>>>
We played Douglas Corner last week with our original drummer Tim's group The August. We might've been a little "rock" for the room, a space generally reserved for more country-inspired acts and singer-songwriter fare, but we did our best to assimilate. I busted out my new Epiphone Casino for a tune, and it held up well under fire. Its got a pretty ragged tone, unlike anything else in my collection, and has already inspired a new composition or two, so I'm not yet regretting that impulse buy.
Kenny & I are in the studio with my former Best Of Seven bandmate Joshua Ketchmark all this week, working on his new LP. Kenny is producing and contributing vocals, percussion, guitar, and whatever other odds & ends it may require. Dave Webb knocked out his bass tracks today, and I did a couple of guitar tracks already, with a few more on deck for tomorrow. We've got a pedal-steel player coming in Friday that we'll be employing to cut a couple of bits for our duo record as well, and my buddy Don Mabus of The New Impostors is working on some additional overdubs for that project at his home studio in Peoria, which we'll be flying into our mixes. God bless the internet, and the miracles of digital recording.(Sorry, Dave Grohl.)
Once we wrap that business up, we're playing another show here in Nashville at The Rutledge on Friday, March 29th, before taking off the next day for Knoxville, and a date with the fine folks at Preservation Pub.
The following weekend, we're back in Cincinnati at The Southgate House, on Sunday, April 7th, supporting Miggs and The Alternate Routes.
We do damn near 3/4s of that same drive the next weekend to make our Louisville debut, at Gerstle's, opening for Digby on 4/13.
Our last April show is in Murfreesboro at Three Brothers, on Friday, the 27th. From there, it looks like we might be off for a bit, so hopefully we can get to work on this covers EP idea we've been kicking around, and Kenny & I might be able to make our way into the home stretch of tracking for this other record. As always, all or none of that may happen, depending on what comes down the pike next.
OK, I can't keep my eyes open any longer, so the last bit of information I have to pass along involves that April 12th date we had posted for National Underground that has since disappeared. The facts of that matter are these: International Pop Overthrow Nashville had secured that venue for this year's run of the festival, but a format change there led to an 11th hour need to move 4 days-worth of performances elsewhere. Those logistics proved impossible to accommodate, so the Nashville edition has been moved to late September, tentatively. Hopefully schedules will align, and we can be part of it then. If not, those of you on the West Coast will be able to catch us during the Los Angeles installment, at Molly Malone's in Hollywood on Friday, July 26th, either acoustic, or possibly all 4 of us at full volume…we're still ironing out those details. I'll be doing an acoustic set with some of my old Best Of Seven bandmates too, so it should be a pretty cool evening. Details, and news on where whichever ones of us make the trip might be playing along the way coming soon.
Off to sleep…..see you guys soon…..other stuff I forgot, and additional goings-on coming up shortly.
The evening showed promise, initially at least. My bassist Henry was behind the wheel, offering me a rare opportunity to relax to and from the gig. He even booked this one, leaving me with little to do but update the website, design some type of event flyer, and show up to perform.
I thought I had it made.
Reality set in almost immediately upon crossing the venue threshold and well before we'd ever played note one of an actual set, priming us for a sure to be unpleasant battle of wills that we; as "employees", had absolutely no hope of winning.
The tubes in our amps were scarcely warm when the first crack of the snare drum let us know that we had entered a rather acoustically-challenged environment. Strumming the first chord, through an amplifier dialed in to the same meager level we rehearse at confirmed these suspicions. If it hadn't, the anxious look on the owner's face tied up any loose ends of doubt.
It didn't take long for his un-subtle, and rather pointed hints about controlling our volume to get under the skin, but we shined it on, doing the best we could to approximate our usual sound, albeit with neutered guitar tones and a light touch on the kit. It wasn't until the pre-set commentary on his unfamiliarity with any of the song titles on our set list that I knew we were in for a real struggle. Apparently we were expected to perform several covers, and this is something we just don't do. I mean, even the majority of the covers we DO know are so obscure we may as well have written them ourselves anyway, so they would have done us no good had we front-loaded this show with them.
Luckily though, in spite of temperatures below freezing, and the threat of snow, we had several folks that drove in from hours away, and I thought their enthusiasm might turn the tide in our favor, since I'd heard our employer make the asinine comment earlier that a certain band(now a national act) I'd inquired about "could play as loud as they wanted", because they'd filled the room when they were there. While we hardly brought in the seam-splitting number of bodies, I thought it odd that we weren't allowed the same respect, seeing as we do our best work when we're allowed to be just what we are, which is a loud rock n' roll band, not the castrated shadow of ourselves that we were being encouraged to conduct business as.
It made no difference, and "the boss" made use of the infantile practice of having his employees pass notes; written in Sharpie on drink napkins, to us on stage, while we were doing our best to play through his handicapping, and gradually bring our volumes up to a level that might allow those in attendance(several of whom had made the suggestion to "turn the guitars up") to hear some semblance of our bona fide sound.
As it turns out, our efforts were all for naught, as 3/4s of the way through our second set, we were told; via napkin, to take a break. Without so much as showing his face, or conferring with us about the issue, he brought the whole thing to a premature halt. I should note that EVEN THEN we had to send an emissary; the unfortunate recipient recipient being Henry, since he booked this one, to the office to find out that we were in fact finished for the night.
We got our money, so no harm done, EXCEPT for those who made 3, 4, and 5 hour treks to this town, anxious to see us do something other than the usual 40 minutes to an hour that we are normally relegated to. For them, I feel bad…for the club, I'd just like to say that your baked potato wedges were tasty, and your waitresses were attractive and very charming….but I'd also like to offer these words of advice:
If you're going to do live music, particularly rock bands..you know, with drums, bass, and guitars, etc??….most of us doing this sort of thing don't spend countless hours writing and rehearsing, not to mention driving all up and down the highway, to provide background music. Never once have my guys sat around worrying about whether or not people would be able to have a conversation over the din of our show. We don't want them to, unless it's one person shouting to the other how great we are, and that individual nodding in agreement. THAT is the only conversation WE care about.
Now, if you want to put a guy on a stool with an acoustic guitar, murmuring like John Mayer while your clientele sips their coffee, so be it, but do your homework before you bring in the polar opposite of that scenario and try to mold them into sedate troubadours, because chances are you're going to make a mess of the situation and end up insulting and embarrassing the subjects of your experiment. Trust me, I now know firsthand.
If it weren't for the fact that we've all been doing this long enough to know our worth as a live act, I'd probably be more bothered by it. As it stands, I'm just irritated enough to feel compelled to write this bit.
We're both lucky.
Apparently, it has always been our drummer Kenny's wish to record his own version of the often-overlooked KISS semi-hit "Hard Luck Woman". The gracious guys that we are, we recently agreed to make that dream come true, first by covering it live at a Christmas show(so as to make up for failing to purchase him an actual gift perhaps), and this past week tracking a proper version of it in the studio. I've gotta say, it turned out pretty cool, as did the version of Fleetwood Mac's "Go Your Own Way" that we also banged out while we were there. We're still waiting for an opportunity to get final mixes done on these, and there is no actual plan for releasing them at the moment, but look for them to appear SOMEWHERE in the not-too-distant future.
As soon as we wrapped those sessions up on Friday, I immediately went solo for the next 48 hours, doing a pair of acoustic gigs, first in Murfreesboro,TN, for my buddy Joey's birthday, and then again the following night at Double T's in Morton, IL, for no better reason than they paid me and there was cold beer.
Since Joey had made a handful of requests, and I'd had to dip into some long-forgotten back catalog numbers, I figured I might as well go forward in time too, and play a few things I've been working on that even the guys in the band haven't heard yet. Having done so, I think I might have uncovered a thing or two worthy of inclusion on either the record Kenny & I have been toiling away on, or some other as-yet-to-be-realized project like another TGA release. Too soon to say, but the wheels are turning.
I'm a little fuzzy as to what songs got played what nights, but for those of you who stayed home, had other plans, or forgot that you could have marveled at my magnificent vocal stylings for free in either the land of Lincoln, or a Mexican joint in the 'Boro, here's what the lucky few were privy to....give or take some detours into John Waite and Steppenwolf territory.
SICK FOR LOVE
HOW DOES IT FEEL
MAKE IT OUT
LIE TO ME
INSIDE YOUR HEAD
FEELS LIKE HOME
KING OF FOOLS(FOXX)
NEEDLES AND PINS
ONLY IN MY HEAD(BO7/BOMBSHELL CRUSH)
ROCK N' ROLL HEART
THE NEXT THREE MINUTES(NEW)
BEEN AWAY TOO LONG(NEW)
I CAN'T SLEEP ALONE
THE EYES IN EVERY ROOM
SLEEPIN' WITH THE RADIO ON
AMERICAN GIRL(TOM PETTY)
I CAN'T TAKE IT(CHEAP TRICK)
JESSIE'S GIRL(RICK SPRINGFIELD)
ANYTHING I MISSED IS PURELY THE RESULT OF FATIGUE, MEDICATION, AND ENTIRELY TOO MANY DRAFT BEERS, BUT I CAN TELL YOU THIS MUCH, WHILE I HAD NO INTENTION OF PLAYING ABOUT 25% OF THE STUFF ON THAT LIST, IT'S PRETTY AMAZING HOW MUCH OF IT COMES RIGHT BACK TO YOU.WHY IS IT THOUGH THAT THE MOST COMPLICATED MUSICAL PASSAGES SEEM TO JUST HAPPEN, BUT THE SIMPLE CHORD PROGRESSIONS ELUDE YOU? SHOULDN'T LOGIC DICTATE A COMPLETELY OPPOSITE SCENARIO? WHATEVER THE CASE, IT WAS FUN, BUT I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO PLUGGING BACK INTO AN AMP AND PLAYING THESE SONGS AS THE GOOD LORD INTENDED THEM TO BE PLAYED. OUR NEXT OPPORTUNITY TO DO SO BEING SATURDAY, MARCH 2ND AT THE GILROY IN CLARKSVILLE, TN. IT'S GONNA BE JUST US THAT NIGHT, DOING IT "EVENING WITH" STYLE, 3 SETS OF OUR STUFF, WITH A HANDFUL OF OUR FAVORITE COVERS IN THE MIX TO KEEP IT INTERESTING FOR THE UNFAMILIARS.
MORE SHOWS COMING UP IN MARCH...THE 14TH AT DOUGLAS CORNER WITH OUR FRIENDS THE AUGUST, AND PRESERVATION PUB IN KNOXVILLE ON THE 30TH. IN BETWEEN, KENNY & I WILL BE WORKING IN THE STUDIO ON JOSHUA KETCHMARK'S NEW RECORD, AND HOPEFULLY SQUEEZING IN A FEW OVERDUB SESSIONS FOR OURS AS WELL.
Well, the first month of 2013 is in the books, and we're all still here, and about to celebrate our 1-year anniversary as The "reconstituted" Great Affairs. We were back to ground zero this past Thursday, at The Nick in Birmingham, AL, where we played our first gig with this lineup last February, when Kenny was just filling in for former fORMER drummer Billy Baker.
Now, a year down the road, things are moving along at a fairly good clip, with the first pressing of the new record just about sold out, well ahead of our expectations, so thanks to all you folks who have grabbed that.
We got another great review from the other side of the Atlantic the other day that you can check out here:
As for that record, it's available at most digital outlets, like iTunes and the like, but you can get physical copies directly through us, as well as new shirts, and whatever other swag we have available, by accessing our store page here:
Back to the subject of recent shows, you can catch up on the saga of the recent Birmingham and Cincinnati dates that resulted in the unfortunate demise of one of our loyal, longtime trailer tires here: mortontimesnews.com
Speaking of those dates, we had the good fortune of meeting and sharing the stage with a couple of great bands you should check out.
The Wild Feathers:
and The Melismatics:
Good folks with great tunes. Take a second. You'll be glad you did.
As far as what happens next, we're in the studio this week, cutting a pair of cover tunes with an as-yet-undecided fate. KISS's "Hard Luck Woman" and Fleetwood Mac's "Go Your Own Way" will be getting the TGA treatment.
Show-wise, I've got a pair of solo acoustic dates this weekend. Here they are.
Friday, February 8th @ OK Jose in Murfreesboro,TN. 8PM... for Joey Doom's birthday. I'm gonna do a couple of hours of stuff at the guest of honor's request. It's free and open to the public, so feel free to join us. Details are on the "shows" page.
Saturday, February 9th at Double T's in Morton, IL. 9PM. Same deal, just without the birthday celebration and 475 miles to the north. This will probably be my last one of these for a while, as Kenny & I are about to knuckle down on finishing the "Nothing's Broken" LP as well as a new full-length from Joshua Ketchmark that resumes tracking here in Nashville in mid/late March. Between those sessions, and getting out on the road some with The Great Affairs, my time is going to be pretty well eaten up, so I hope to see a few of you strangers from the north country while I'm there.
The next official TGA show on the calendar is March 2nd at The Gilroy in Clarksville, but something might pop up between now and then, so keep checking the calendar on our page @: thegreataffairs.com
In the not-so-distant future, we'll be hitting Knoxville & Louisville, and there's a new Nashville date posted for March, so we'll be bringing it home soon as well.
See you then,
The Great Affairs
'4' has hit the streets, sales are "brisk"; in the parlance of retail folk, and I'm happy to say that, in spite of having consumed entirely too much wine the previous evening, I believe we delivered a fairly solid set on Saturday night.
We played it safe, and opened with a couple of familiar numbers like "Head Light" and "Fix You", before dipping into the new record for 5 in a row, providing for a considerably less relaxed 20 minutes or so, during which time I had to carefully consider nearly every move made on the fretboard and each turn of phrase I sang, since some of these songs were receiving their first public airings, and have not yet adhered themselves to my brain in such a way that would allow me to perform them on sheer muscle memory alone.
Once we had negotiated the debuts of "The Ring","Fists & Guitars", and "Rock N' Roll Heart", we settled back into well-tread territory, save for a brief detour through Fleetwood Mac's "Go Your Own Way", to the delight of Tony Higbee, and Billy "Shitty Jesus" Wayne Goodwin, both longtime 'Mac supporters. The back half of the set was a looser affair, and my second wind kicked in towards the end, as the lingering effects of dehydration and irresponsible consumption began to subside.
To all of you who stuck around, raised your voices, and put your hands together at both appropriate and inappropriate intervals, we hail you! You guys keep this thing alive, and it means the world to us. If you missed it, well, that's a bummer, because as of right now, we have nothing booked in Nashville until mid-April. Hopefully that will change shortly, but in the meantime, we're going to be in Cincinnati, Louisville, Clarksville, Evansville, Bowling Green, Birmingham, Murfreesboro, etc. over the next 2 or 3 months, getting back to see some people we've been missing over the last year or so. Some of these dates are posted on the site already, and more will be appearing in the coming days, so check back here periodically, 'cause a few of them may be last-minute hit & run bookings that pop up on the fly.
Before we load up and get to work, I'm headed out to California for a few days to do a whole lot of nothing, and check out new gear at the NAMM convention in Anaheim. When I get back, we're off to The Nick in Birmingham, AL on 1/31, followed by Southgate House in Cincinnati(Newport, KY) on 2/2.
Later that week, we'll be in the studio, cutting a pair of cover tunes we may use somewhere down the line, and doing a little more work on the 'Nothing's Broken' LP. I'll be splitting from the studio on Friday 2/8 to play a special acoustic show at a Tex/Mex joint called OK Jose in Murfreesboro for my buddy Joey Doom's birthday. Come out and help Joey forget he's logged another year on Earth, while I strum semi-quietly in the background.
The next morning, I'm off to Illinois to do a similar, but non bday-related solo gig at Double T's in Morton. Hopefully this time, my heckler will stay home, and I will not be forced to put my guitar down mid-song to confront anyone about their lack of etiquette and questionable social skills.
I think that's about all I've got to report for now. I will be adding the "buy" link for the new T-shirts soon. They should arrive just as I get back from Los Angeles next week, so look for that if you're at all interested in wrapping your upper torso in a silver/gray t-shirt with 4 really good-looking guys on the front of it. Oh yeah, and if you haven't already, go order the new CD. Trust me, it's great. I've got nothing to gain but money by telling you that, so you know my testimony has to be true. Consume with confidence.
Well, folks, it's here. '4' has arrived. With the exception of our physical copies, which hopefully we'll lay our hands on in a matter of hours, and not days, the new record is available. As such, I figured I should compile all the applicable links in one place, and let those who intend to purchase this fine work choose which medium and outlet they prefer. Here goes...
The actual CD, direct from us(includes download link to a bonus EP 'Halfways & Misfires' with 5 brand new, previously unreleased tracks, a sticker, and a TGA guitar pick: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=VSJHLATNETTZU
Here's a link to the opening track of the bonus EP, if you wanna check it out.: https://soundcloud.com/the-great-affairs/go-too-far
CD Baby(like iTunes, digital only, but they will eventually be stocking the CD as well): http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/thegreataffairs
The Kool Kat Musik version of the CD, with alternate artwork and 7 bonus tracks(includes demos of 3 tunes that made the record, and 4 unreleased demo tracks. NOTE:These demos are exclusive to this release, and do not overlap with the 'Halfways & Misfires' EP): http://184.108.40.206/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=KKM&Product_Code=The_Great_Affairs_4&Category_Code=PO
Don't forget, we'll be celebrating all of the above with a CD release show in Nashville this weekend at 12th & Porter.
This is the only Nashville show we have on the books for now, but I'm sure that will change soon enough. Just in case, please help us kick off 2013 right, and get the ball rolling on this new release.
p.s. New shirts will be available by the end of the month as well. I'll post a link as soon as they're ready.
Well, folks, here we are, on the eve of yet another year on the Planet Earth. Let's be honest, some of you whackjobs wondered if we'd make it, right? It's OK to 'fess up. Hell, I'll shoot straight, I'm listening to the God-awful KISS 'Psycho Circus' album while I type this, of my own free will. If I can pony up such an embarrassing truth , at least one of you nutters can come clean on buying into Mayan prophecy. Any takers?
Fine, whatever then.
So, this time last year, fORMER was the name of the game, promoting our then-new 2nd record, whilst navigating the health issues and eventual departure of our long-time drummer, all of which left me wondering if carrying on with these musical efforts was even worth the trouble. Truth be told, I was THIS close to calling it a day, and applying myself wholeheartedly to latch-hooking, but we stumbled upon a new tub-thumper, ditched the fORMER moniker, and adopted The Great Affairs as our full-time handle, scooping up material from both bands and making our setlist a grab-bag of whatever we felt like playing on any given evening.
As it turns out, this change of scenery was exactly what the doctor ordered, for me at least, and before I knew it, we were in the middle of making not one, but two new records, the first of which is about to drop in the first weeks of 2013.
Here's a taste:
You can hear more here: http://www.thegreataffairs.com
'4' is the debut offering from the newly revamped lineup of The Great Affairs, and we're so proud of it, there will be two versions made available.
If you buy it through iTunes(or whatever digital outlet supplies your portable devices with content), you'll get 7 songs.
If you buy the CD directly from us through this site, you'll get those same 7 songs in a swank package designed by yours truly, along with a sticker, a TGA guitar pick, and a download link to a new EP called 'Halfways & Misfires', consisting of previously unreleased material recorded specifically for this occasion. Here's a sample, a tune called 'Skyline', that you can download right now at this link:
Hell, we'll even sign the CD for you, if you drop us a line with your order and let us know you're into that sort of thing.
Here's the link to pre-order this version now(Actual release date is January 15th, and we anticipate shipping initial orders on or before that date. Watch your email for the link to 'Halfways & Misfires' around that time as well.)
But wait, there is another option. Kool Kat Musik, out of New Jersey will be releasing an expanded version of the record, with those 7 tunes, PLUS 7 more bonus demos(all unique from the tracks featured on the 'Halfways & Misfires' EP), in an entirely different packaging. Here's the cover....and a pre-order link for the "deluxe" edition:
To celebrate all this nonsense, we'll be playing a CD Release show at 12th & Porter in Nashville on Saturday, January 19th. We'll be headlining, and unwrapping a few of these new tunes live for the first time. Our brothers The East Side Gamblers will precede us, preceded themselves by D. Ryan, playing his first Nashville show in some time. $7, 18 & up, and we'd sure be glad to see you down front, as we attempt to redeem ourselves for a recent poor showing there, plagued throughout by a projectile-vomiting bassist. He's feeling much better now, by the way.
From there, we aim to hit the road a bit, spreading the gospel of '4', while Kenny & I work on finishing up our duo record 'Nothing's Broken', currently at a state of approximately 55% readiness. This may be slow going, as Kenny & I have a sessions for a new record from Joshua Ketchmark to helm in March, but we're trying to be expeditious in getting this thing into folks' hands, because it's a damn fine selection of numbers, in our humble assessment.
To everyone that's been keeping up, coming out to shows, buying our swag, and helping us keep this often slow-moving train on the rails, we hail you. Please be safe this evening, and all evenings, and here's to an even better 2013.
p.s. New shirts on the way shortly. Here's the design.
Well, I guess we're still here, and "If you're here, and I'm here, wouldn't that make this OUR time?
Well, as I type this in the wee hours of our civilization's twilight, as foretold by the all-knowing and clearly wily(did I mention extinct?) Mayans, I'm oddly upbeat about my prospects for tomorrow. I'm thinking I might see a movie, so long as it's not just me and my dog, a la Will Smith in 'I Am Legend'(For the record, as post-apocalyptic/plague flicks go, I prefer Charlton Heston in the Robert Neville character from 1971's 'Omega Man', or better yet, Vincent Price as Robert Morgan in the original adaption 'The Last Man On Earth'.).
Assuming we do in fact weather the forecast of cataclysmic events, The Rapture, or whatever that shill Kirk Cameron was peddling in those 'Left Behind' flicks a few years back, I should have in hand tomorrow the final mixes of the new EP '4', all 7 songs measuring up to the exacting standards of myself and my fellow bandmates in The Great Affairs. If we survive the end of times, and this is NOT the case, I will petition for early admittance to the afterlife, as I simply can't bear the idea of laboring over this release any longer. That, and I'm afraid my laptop; where all the cover artwork is being produced, appears to be on the verge of a critical meltdown, which would undoubtedly result in at least a significant portion of my EXTENSIVE efforts requiring a do-over.
Projected demise of life as we know it notwithstanding, we've forged ahead with plans to release the new record in January, booking a show with The East Side Gamblers at 12th & Porter on the 19th of next month to celebrate.
We did a photo shoot in 5 Points last Sunday, images from which will hopefully play into the album art and new promotional materials.
The new compilation CDs, 'First Good Memories' and 'fORMERly' are here, and will be making their debut appearance on the mercy table this Saturday(12/15) evening, as we play set of acoustic stuff for the 'Very Acoustic Christmas 2' at Bellevue Pub, with For Lack Of Lythium, and Roses Unread. The show is free, but they'll be selling raffle tickets to benefit the Project Lifting Spirits charity:
, giving away a Halo guitar, strings from George L's, gift cards from Sam Ash, drum sticks from Innovative Percussion, and more. We're going to pull out a few new numbers that we've never attempted before, and dust off 2 or 3 others that we've been missing, so we'll make it worth your while, I promise. We play around 9, with happy hour running until 10, so get there early and enjoy the libations with us before, during, and after.
The following week(12/22), Patrick & I will be trekking north for the holidays, to visit our families, and figured we'd stop off at Double T's in Morton, IL, my hometown, where we're going to do a couple/few hours of acoustic stuff…The Great Affairs, fORMER, Best Of Seven, some covers…the usual whatever-we-feel-like-playing set, with a guest or two no doubt. Get your requests in now.
From there, we go into woodshed mode, getting a brand new set ready for next year, and the release show, while I continue work on my solo EP 'Halfways & Misfires'(more on that later) (here's a sample>>>
If I don't see you before then, Merry Christmas(or whatever any of you uptight 21st century folks feel comfortable calling it) and have a happy New Year!
The Great Affairs
I have a date with a cardboard cutout(seriously), so I'm going to have to keep this brief.
The record is tracked, and in it's initial mixing stages.
These first mixes we've received sound pretty fantastic as is, but we're going in to fine-tune them on December 12th.
Sometime later this week, or early next week, we'll have the new compilation CDs in hand, 'First Good Memories' & 'fORMERly'
We'll have these on the merch table at our final 2012 "full band" show on December 15th at Bellevue Pub. We'll be the middle act on a 3-band bill, doing 45 minutes or so of acoustic stuff, including a new cover or two, and possibly unveiling one more tune from the forthcoming EP.
The new video is up, and here it is>>>>>>>
If that embedding didn't work, here's the link to it on YouTube:
Thanks again to Mike J. Nichols, and Darrell Frasier for editing and shooting this for us.
We played a somewhat under-attended show(sorry, I'm not gonna lie) this past Friday, and I'm actually kinda glad the crowd was light, because frankly, we weren't very good. Our bassist Henry was puking into a bucket just off-stage both between, and occasionally DURING songs, the kick drum conspired against us throughout our set with multiple attempts to fall off of the drum riser, Patrick was also under the weather, my pedalboard chose this evening to adopt a free-will stance as to when it would and would NOT activate the assigned effects, and Kenny was in a generally foul mood that may have led to fisticuffs later in the evening, if I read my text messages right. As rock n' roll as all of this may sound, it was a bit much to have happening all at once, and we were eventually forced to cut the last 3 songs, for the sake of Henry's health.(note: He is recovering, and sounded infinitely more enthusiastic on the phone yesterday.)
Many drinks and one journey to Johnny Cash's grave later, where I was mistaken for the son of a Bee Gee(must be my beard), I have a long day ahead of me, a day of photographing my nephew's "Flat Stanley" cutout for his class project, with the little virtual guy enjoying the sights of Nashville. I think we'll introduce him to Billy "Shitty Jesus" Wayne at Red Door today, since he really seemed to enjoy 12th & Porter and Rebar the other night, and makes friends quite easily.
So, Nashville, maybe we'll see you in the unplugged setting on the 15th, and Illinois, Patrick & I will be back to provide the soundtrack for your drinking and carrying on at Double T's in Morton on the 22nd. Otherwise, 2013 it is...new EP from The Great Affairs, new LP 'Nothing's Broken', from the as-yet-unnamed Kenny/Denny project(I voted for 'My Friends Call Me Lenny' or 'Alright, Hamilton!'), and maybe one other surprise offering in the works, but we'll have to discuss that in greater detail later, as Flat Stanley is itching to hit the town.
p.s., I've posted a couple of new blogs for The Times here:
Well, tonight we enter the studio of the one and only Mr. Michael Webb, where we shall attempt to gather the final adornments required to make this new TGA EP seem complete. Some Hammond organ, a dash or two of ivories, and possibly a synth part here or there, on 2, maybe 3 songs, and we should have just about all we need to settle into our producers' chairs next Monday, to enter the (God willing) final phase of this protracted effort.
Over the weekend, I was up north in Illinois for the Massaglia wedding(congrats, John & Bobette!), and got to see more than a few people I had not seen since I still played a purple Foto-Flame Fender Floyd Rose Strat, and felt OK about going shirtless on stage. I did neither of these things at the reception, and thankfully no one else did either.
The night before though, my judgement was moderately impaired, having had a few drinks en route and spotting Rod Stewart's sister at an Applebee's in southern Illinois( you can read about that here>> http://www.mortontimesnews.com/article/20121119/blogs/121119698/-1/blogs01
By the time we reached Morton, and Double T's, where I was scheduled to play a couple of acoustic sets, I had recovered from the shock of seeing the '78 Rod doppelganger with breasts. Since it was a bit of a homecoming for a few folks, the set-list took a hard left turn at one point and never really recovered, finally wrapping up with The Georgia Satellites' "Keep Your Hands To Yourself" and Prince's "P Control"(complete with some guy doing a spoons solo). I know when to say when, and there was no topping the spoon man.
Still, before the evening devolved into a free-for-all, I did manage to squeeze in a new song or two, and even pulled a FOXX tune out, in honor of 3/4s of that long-dead institution's key members being on hand. The set went something like this, although the order gets a little foggy right about the time I succumbed to the lure of the free shot.
Hardcore Troubadour(Steve Earle)
Feels Like Home
How Does It Feel
Lie To Me
Needles & Pins
Aimless(new one…pretty sure I'd never played this one live.)
Isn't She Gold
Dancin' In The Dark(Bruce Springsteen)
Change Of Heart(Tom Petty)
I Can't Take It(Cheap Trick)
King Of Fools(FOXX)
Make It Out
Free Fallin'(Tom Petty)
Sick For Love
Eggshells(Best Of Seven…by request)
I'm On Fire(Bruce Springsteen)…for Brody Maag, who insisted the song was about bed-wetting…pretty sure he's off on that one.
Sure Know Something, I stole Your Love, & Nowhere To Run(KISS…with Brandon Timian on vocals)…which lead to..
18 & Life(Skid Row)
I'll Be There For You(Bon Jovi)
Smooth Up In Ya(Bulletboys)…all with Brandon.
Little Red Corvette(Prince)
Livin' On A Prayer(Bon Jovi)
Keep You Hands To Yourself(Georgia Satellites)
Brent Stortzum also pitched in on guitar, and I'm pretty sure I left he and Brandon alone for a while to do some Alice In Chains songs, but like I said, it got kinda fuzzy after a while, so I'm not sure how much of any of that actually took place.
I had a few on deck for some folks that didn't make it, but maybe next time…and I might've dodged a bullet, because I wasn't exactly 100% on some of those anyway. With that in mind, anybody planning on making the next show might wanna get their requests in early. I'm not exactly flush with cover tunes, and I might need to make myself some cheat-sheets. I'll be back there in December, specifically the 22nd of December, and something tells me I might need to brush up on my 80s music, requests or no requests.
Until then, we have our final plugged-in show Friday, November 30th, at 12th & Porter, where we'll be headlining a bill featuring Merrill, Crown Point, and The Decadence. Here's the FaceBook events link>> http://www.facebook.com/events/552302108116688/
We should go on around 11, with a new set designed to provide a riveting concert-going experience for even the most jaded and fickle rock n' roll fan. If it doesn't grab you, then I suggest you seek the advice of a qualified physician, because there is clearly something wrong with you that we can't help you with.
That week, we'll also be part of a podcast called 'Balancing Act' that streams weekly from the Jon Lovitz Comedy Club in L.A. Part of the GoCast Network, they'll be featuring a few of our tunes, including "Sherrybaby", the video for which is currently being edited by the one and only Mike J. Nichols, who is at least partially responsible for our inclusion in this episode. You can find out more about this by checking them out at this link>> http://gocastnetwork.com/shows/balancing-act/
That's about it for now. I think I'm going to go see the new Bond flick…or maybe just get started on some demos…or maybe pour myself a beer and wait for whatever I did to my right knee over the weekend to stop hurting so I can walk in a straight line and fetch my own turkey on Thursday.
On that note, Happy Thanksgiving, kids.
I spent the weekend in Los Angeles, working on pre-production for the next Joshua Ketchmark record. We mostly tinkered with his rough demos(some rougher than others...in fact, some didn't really need much in the way of our help, truth be told), my drummer Kenny & I, refining whatever rough edges we thought needed a little something extra. I focused primarily on melody ideas, shifting the odd chord here or there, and hopefully taking things up a notch where they may have been lacking, while Kenny refined the drum parts, and helped me drop in some additional guitar and vocal hooks throughout. I think Josh has a good batch of tunes on his hands here, especially considering how prolific he's been over the last year or two. I guess we'll find out soon enough, because they're set to start tracking drums in Hollywood at the end of this month.
The weather was gorgeous, as always, even if we didn't see that much of the sun since we were holed up in the studio(with a fridge expertly stocked by the lovely better half of Mr. K.), and I did manage to catch up with a few folks while I was there. Shane Tassart, from my old band Best Of Seven, popped in long enough to lend an ear and an idea or two to the process. Oddly enough, I had just reconnected with our old bass player Brian Wong 2 nights earlier in Nashville. We hadn't seen each other in 10 years, but he was in town, working as stage manager for Styx, and had the night off before their show at The Ryman Theater, so we hung out for a couple of hours and caught up. At least, that's what we did when he wasn't attempting to convince my girl to leave me for him. Thankfully, he's married, and she respected that union, or I might have lost her to Budweiser's "goodwill ambassador", as we have long referred to him. Here he is, pouring on the charm.
I forgave him, since he got us tickets to the show the following night. It was good to see he hadn't changed a bit. I always loved that guy.
So, after narrowly avoiding the loss of my lady friend to a vagabond Lothario, I boarded my plane to California, only to discover that Clare Bowen, who plays Scarlett on ABC's 'Nashville' was seated in first class. I've gotta say, she looked better in person. Oddly enough, on my return flight, in the exact same row, but two seats to the right, was her cast-mate JD Souther, who plays producer Watty White. I imagine that role isn't much of a stretch for him, being as he's written some of the biggest hits The Eagles ever had:"New Kid In Town", "Heartache Tonight", "The Best Of My Love", and the list goes on. Honestly, when he breezed by me in line, I thought he was an unusually spry Merle Haggard. It took me a good look as I was getting seated to put it together.
Anyway, in L.A., when we weren't working on Josh's stuff, we spent an evening drinking wine in a $17M, 17-level, former convent/priests' retreat, while Josh filmed scenes for a song called "Without You", from his latest EP 'The Ignited'. The shots at the top of this blog were from various locations throughout the house, which is filled with everything from hidden passageways, a secret elevator that leads to a prohibition-era wine cellar, a chapel with a genuine pipe organ built into the walls, and even a pool. When the place was built in 1928, for $500,000, it was the most expensive personal residence in Hollywood. It's currently being eyed by a major pop vixen(whose name I swore I would not repeat if I were to tell any of this story), for purchase and serious remodel, since it still bears all the sisters' tweaks in decor, as well as most of their religious artifacts and many of their belongings.
The scenes being shot were based on the film 'American Psycho', with Josh playing the Christian Bale role, and our friend Nikki taking on the main victim duties. Here are the two ex-lovebirds, mid-shoot.
And here is the ridiculously gory aftermath of his character's rampage.
I've left out the craziest detail of this whole bloody affair by neglecting to mention that this property they were filming on is directly next door to the Tate-Labianca house, where Charles Manson's "family" committed their most infamous crimes, which included the murder of actress Sharon Tate and her unborn child. As if the building itself, with all of its half-lit hallways, ominous statuary, and roving faux-corpses wasn't creepy enough, the caretaker(who happens to be an old friend of ours) hipped us to that bit of info and pushed the whole spook factor over the edge.
The next morning, most of us unscathed by the long hours and many drinks(MOST of us), we hit Blue Palms for an early lunch, before navigating some serious traffic to get Kenny to the airport in the nick of time to catch his flight. (My experience the following morning was the polar opposite...wide open roads, and virtually no lines other than the usual lengthy security check.) With one hungover ex-cadaver passed out in the back, we made our way into Burbank and dropped off a pair of flash drives, and a DVD-R to our video editor Mike J. Nichols, who is going to take a stab at editing together all the footage assembled for "Sherrybaby", just in time for the new EP's release. Conveniently for me, it gave me a chance to grab a drink at my favorite West Coast watering hole, Tin Horn Flats, which was unfortunately overrun by Chicago Bears fans. We made our exit before the Bears' loss, which was probably a good thing, since some of these folks were entirely too enthusiastic, and I couldn't have possibly cared less.
Thai food from Toi, and the latest episode of The Walking Dead later, I was sound asleep. By the same time the following night, I was back in Nashville, drinking a margarita and eating taquitos at El OK Corral. It was almost like I'd never left.
If you made it through all that, let me just say one more thing. Anyone in the Central Illinois area, I'll be at Double T's in Morton this Friday(11/16) night, doing acoustic sets. It's 21 & up, free to get in, and you never know who might join me for a song or two or three. Come on out, but please DO NOT buy me shots, I have a wedding to attend the next day.
As soon as I get back from Illinois, we head over to Michael Webb's to cut the last of the keyboard tracks for the new record(s), and then we mix. This thing is truly just around the corner, finally...fingers crossed.
Until next time,
If you're reading this, I guess that means you've peeped the new layout for the site. Hope everyone digs it.I took a little time to shuffle things around this past weekend, when we weren't busy dazzling capacity crowds from East Nashville to Bowling Green, KY, and I think it looks pretty damn good myself.
I updated the calendar(more to come there shortly, with any luck), and the bio page. With any luck, I will get around to adding the last few "Hearing Things" entries that have yet to be transferred to this location. On that note, I am still waiting for a go-ahead to post new content for The Times, but I'm not holding my breath at this point, because there seems to be some delay preventing the community blogs from being reactivated. No big deal, I've got a few other things to occupy myself in the meantime.
For instance, here's a look at some tentative cover art for the new EP from The Great Affairs, that we will be entering The Switchyard at 11AM tomorrow to (fingers crossed) complete tracking on.
We've abandoned the previous title "Fore", in favor of the less-clever "4"...being our fourth record and all. (Originally a concept album based on the folk tale "The Legend Of Ernest McKee", we strayed too far from the source material along the way, and thus opted for the simple numeral.)
So, tomorrow we hit the studio, and get this stuff up to snuff for eventual mixing, and then Kenny & I split for Southern California. As soon as we return, we'll get back to the business of shining this thing up for release, and you should be able to get your mitts on it by December.
Until then, browse the new site, and we'll see you when we see you. Our next full-band show is at 12th & Porter on Friday, November 30th.
Well, as I sit here listening to the excellent new Danko Jones record "Rock And Roll Is Black And Blue", it occurred to me that since it is Halloween, we have approached that time of the month when an update is generally issued via this site. Unfortunately, the previously-established tradition of such news being accompanied by a new demo track has been disrupted by a sudden flurry of activity that has made it next to impossible for me to get anything properly tracked. Now, while I could foist upon you a subpar effort that I'm not particularly proud of, I'd prefer to deliver the goods at a later date, possibly doubling up on the helping to make up for my inability to effectively manage my time as needed to maintain this time-honoured tradition.
OK, I know I'm overstating the case, but I wanted it to sound like I was legitimately distressed and horribly disappointed with myself. Truth is, I realize it's more likely that no one is actually chomping at the bit for the latest offering from Pastry Park, and having been caught up in other business allowed me to lose track of time and neglect my responsibilities. I'm sorry, and trust me, there is a TON of new music coming. Even though I wasn't able to do any full-blown demos this past month, in addition to doing a great deal of work on the two records we have in the pipeline, I DID cut some quick acoustic demos of 3 brand new tunes, 'Bleed', 'Up In Smoke', & 'Skyline', that will hopefully get their due treatment before long.
Speaking of records on deck, we've been discussing for quite some time the idea of compiling the fORMER tracks that we still do live, and pressing a CD to have on hand at shows, so as to alleviate the confusion of trying to explained the tangled trajectory of the fORMER/The Great Affairs/fORMER/back to The Great Affairs journey, which invariably gives way to even greater confusion on the part of the unfortunate soul who inquired. SO, we're assembling just such a collection, designed to encapsulate the tunes that have already, or may yet find their way into our live set-lists. Here's a look at some tentative cover art.
...and here's a picture of my dog Cash, sunning herself on our deck while I type this....
As for what has been keeping me away from my studio? Well, I haven't been away from it, honestly, I've just been busy with other things.
I went to Atlanta and had my mind blown by The Afghan Whigs, further blown by a mess of ridiculous roller coasters the next day at Six Flags Over Georgia, and the most polite, jovial Waffle House staff I've ever encountered, including "Queefah", as Lee(ex-fORMER/TGA keysman) misunderstood our waitress to have introduced herself as. The rest of us heard "Quita(sp?)". In his defense, he had a pretty impressive bar tab the night before, and something in his sock was bothering him.
Back in Nashville, we got to plug back in spend 40 or so minutes getting back to business and shaking off some bad vibes. For those of you who don't know, our bassist Henry lost his mom to cancer recently, and this was the first time I've seen him getting back to his old self since that whole sad story began to unfold. His dad Al came out too, and it was great to see him in good spirits as well.
The morning after that show, I headed up to Illinois to do a solo acoustic set as the opener for Damon Johnson, who fronted Brother Cane, and has since gone on to play guitar for Alice Cooper, and; currently, Thin Lizzy. My buddy Jamie Markley and a local promoter Ben Owen hooked me up with this one, and I've gotta say, it was probably one of my favorite shows I've ever played. Damon couldn't have been any cooler, and the folks on hand were good people. I sold a bunch of CDs, got to b.s. with some friends I hadn't seen in a while, and even got asked to roll up to Rock Falls the next night to play a few more(I had to decline, as I was pretty well burnt on being behind the wheel at that point, and had prior business obligations.). Hopefully Damon & I will get to hook up for some more shows down the line, which seems pretty likely since he told me he was looking at possibly moving to Nashville in the new year.
While I was in Illinois, I caught a KISS tribute band and stayed out too late drinking someone else's beer(Thanks, Mr. Glover), and I got asked if I'd contribute a song to mi amigo Tommy "B" Edwards' solo EP that he's currently tracking in Peoria with Colt Capperune. I sent Tommy a couple of tracks that didn't exactly fit our current direction, and it looks like one or both might end up on his record. This was made all the more likely by Mr. Michael Saint-Leon, my trusty engineer/producer, who made a timely house call yesterday, to explain the art of exporting session files from Logic that would be compatible with ProTools. As usual, I owe you, sir.
We rehearsed last night, sans drummer, since Kenny is just now returning from playing the Lynyrd Skynyrd cruise with Bonepony. We worked up a few things we haven't played live in a while, and messed around with a couple of interesting cover tunes that might show up in the set tomorrow night at Tidball's and/or Friday at Charlie Bob's. At Tidball's in Bowling Green, KY we're firing up the amps, and taking over for the whole night, doing everything from our catalogue that seems like a good idea, and some covers from Cheap Trick, Tom Petty, KISS, even some Prince maybe...maybe. Charlie Bob's will be a stripped-down affair, with all of us on hand doing a couple of hours-worth of the same kinda stuff, with a few more oddball covers thrown in for shits & giggles.
There might be a sudden, surprise announcement regarding the weekend....stay tuned....not sure yet how that's gonna pan out, if at all.
Next Tuesday, November 6th, we go into the studio to put the finishing touches on the new EP from The Great Affairs. We have only a couple of bass tracks, some guitar, percussion, and a few backing vocal parts to slide into place, and we'll be ready to mix, I believe. Look for that thing to drop in December.
Once that is done, Kenny & I jet out west bright & early Friday morning, convening at LAX, and catching a lift into Hollywood, where we'll spend the next 2 days sorting through and refining tracks for Joshua Ketchmark's next record, that we'll be tracking here in Nashville next year. Working or not, I'm ready for some California sun.
When I get back, I'm off to Illinois again for a wedding, but while I'm there, I'm doing another acoustic gig at Double T's in Morton on Friday, November 16th, so Central Illinois folks, mark your calendars.
THAT is the long answer to why I haven't had time to cut any new tracks for the monthly download I'd previously guaranteed would be available. I'll try to be better...really, and like I said, there is plenty of new music just over the horizon.
See you out there,
...none of these things will be discussed in this blog. Sorry.
CA. Yeah. November 9th, Kenny & I board a westward-bound flight, to Los Angeles,specifically ...doing some pre-production on a record we'll be working on over the next few months.
Speaking of records, we spent about 10 hours in the studio yesterday, and emerged with 4 more tunes that'll eventually end up spread out over the new "project" he & I have been toiling over, and an EP from The Great Affairs.
'Dyin' To', 'Fists & Guitars', 'I Am Reborn', and 'Rock & Roll Heart' got the majority of their vocals, guitars, and percussion dropped into place...even a little gnarly blues harp came into play for a measure or two. We're now just bass, a couple guitar tracks from Patrick Miller, some keys, and a few backing vocals away from being ready to mix this mess..at least the TGA EP...those 7 numbers are close enough to make me nervous.
With any luck, we'll get to those finishing touches sometime over the next couple of weeks.
In the meantime, we're playing an early set at The Hard Rock on Broadway Wednesday(10/24)...on at 7PM sharp. 5 bucks. All ages.
Kenny is headed to Florida the next day with Bonepony, to play the Lynyrd Skynyrd Simple Man Cruise for a few days, while I head north to open for Damon Johnson(Brother Cane/Thin Lizzy) at The Fieldhouse in Peoria, IL on Friday(10/26).
When we both get back, the band will be hitting Bowling Green, KY, and taking over Tidball's for the night, partaking of their "Penny Draft Thursday"(11/1), and then stripping it all down the next night(Friday, 11/2) for an "intimate" acoustic performance at Charlie Bob's in East Nashville, where some or all of us will preempt their usual karaoke night for a couple of hours of whatever we feel like playing that is least likely to enrage the throngs of disappointed American Idol hopefuls on hand to strut their stuff.
Then, California...and an entirely too-brief working vacation.
See you somewhere,
p.s Tom Petty's "Wildflowers" is THE SH#T! Disagree....I dare ya.
Alright, real quick-like, 'cause I've got a mess of deep, deep lyrics to memorize by Friday, here's what's up...and what's been up....
I spent a good bit of last week in The Switchyard, cutting lead and backing vocals on 5 or 6 songs, as well as guitars on a couple of other tunes.
Our engineer/co-producer Michael Saint-Leon & I also dug into what will hopefully be the final mixes of a couple tracks, one of which I've posted on my site @ www.dennysmithmusic.com If you get a chance, check out "Sherrybaby", which we've been working on a video for with our buddy Darrell Frasier. Our scenes are all shot(I think), so the rest of the work is in his hands. We should have some news on where and when you can see that soon.
I ended up rolling out of the studio late Friday night with a CD of 11 tunes....not all complete, mind you, but several of which are well on their way to sounding release-worthy, which gives me hope and I'm actually starting to see a light at the end of this long tunnel...for The Great Affairs' EP at least.
There is only one tune from the EP that is just drums at this point, since Patrick & I pretty much covered the rest. I even got to do my best Thin Lizzy-inspired harmony lead on "Dyin' To", pretty much off the cuff and winged, to the best of my ability, with some coaching from my cohorts in the control booth. That, and "Rock N' Roll Heart" are shaping up to be a couple of guitar-heavy slabs of goodness that I can't wait to bring to the live show. But, first things first.....
................................we must become ALL STANLEY......................
Yeah, it's THIS Friday(10/5)....9 relatively obscure(well, 7 of them qualify) tunes made famous(or not, in this case) by the great Paul Stanley of KISS. No, we're not donning makeup, although I personally wish we were. Instead, it looks like I may be the sole TGA member who will be celebrating Paul's 'Animalize' look, an ensemble which you may recall favored a variety of leopard, tiger, and other jungle cat prints. Since I am unable to cultivate such an impressive tuft of chest hair, and my associates refuse to get painted up, this is the least I can do to celebrate a largely overlooked and under-appreciated era of Stanley fashion. We hit the 12th & Porter stage at 9. I hope to see some of you there, but pray that you won't remember a bit of it the next day.
With that out of the way, we should be back to our old selves by Wednesday, October 24th, when we open an all ages show at The Hard Rock Cafe here in Nashville. We're playing an early slot(doors at 6, we go on at 7 sharp...real time), since Kenny has to take off later that night to play the Lynyrd Skynyrd Simple Man Cruise with Bonepony for the next several days, docking and rolling back up this way just in time to climb back in the van and head to Bowling Green on Thursday, November 1st, so we can do Penny Draft Night and "an evening with The Great Affairs", where it looks like it'll be just us, playing everything we know until WE run out of songs, or THEY run out of beer. Make your plans now.
Alright, I'm starting to ramble, so let me just throw out this one last bit of information. In addition to streaming "Sherrybaby" on MY site, if you go to www.thegreataffairs.com , there is a new free download track for October. Some of you may already have this one, since it was one of the first tracks I laid down when I got this new recording rig, but for those that don't, "Won't Get It Here" is there for the taking. This tune was one of the contenders for the last fORMER record that unfortunately(or not...you decide) didn't make the grade. Check it out. It's a bit more "rock" than the last few tunes I've posted, and I'm sorry to those who have it already, but I just haven't had time, with all that's been going on, to fire up the rig and track a new one. I promise I will deliver fresh goods for November.
The Great Affairs
So, here I sit, out on the deck, enjoying what could be described as near-perfect weather conditions for sitting out on one's deck, listening to the early rough mixes of the tracks we worked on last week, and I figured I'd update this page with the latest on what we've been up to, seeing as traffic has been unusually high on this site all month for some odd reason.(Damn, that was one LONG sentence....take a few seconds to marvel at my run-on compositional skills.)
First off, I'm still in the dark as to when my "Hearing Things" blog will be reappearing on The Times' webpages. I'm assuming there have been some additional obstacles in prepping the new portal myself and the other community bloggers will be using to upload our content. Honestly, I've enjoyed the break, and the extra time off has afforded me the opportunity to concentrate on a few other things that were in need of attention. That said, I hope it gets sussed out shortly, and I'll be back to jawing about whatever just as soon as they get their business squared away. In the meantime, I'll try to get all the archived blogs uploaded to this site, since I know I'm a few months behind in adding them here. Sorry.
OK, we played a show and shot a video last month. We have a few more "scenes" to capture next weekend, and that should vault us into the editing phase, so hopefully we'll be seeing some early cuts of "Sherrybaby" in October/November, just about the time we plan on having the new The Great Affairs EP "IV"(actually, it's still untitled, but Roman numerals look badass, and making it to #4 sounds pretty cool, if you ask me.). Here's where we stand with that release. 7 songs, as follows:
Shame On You
Rock N' Roll Heart
Fists & Guitars
Some of these are pretty much finished, save for a minor mix tweak or two, while others are still in need of various embellishments, like guitars, bass, vocals, etc. In other words, the drums are done, and maybe a few other bits, but not much else, SO next week, we're headed back in to do some singin', and whatever else might get us a little closer to having a finished product on our hands.
While I'm there, I'll be putting some semi-finishing touches on a few more tracks for the OTHER record Kenny & I have been collaborating on. This one has a definite name, "Nothing's Broken", and is also a fair distance from the actual finish line, but we've made great strides in closing that gap over the last few weeks, and most of October will be devoted to dotting I's and crossing T's on these tunes:
That's My Girl
As Fine As You Are
Let Me Go
I Am Reborn
A Secret's A Secret
.....and maybe a few more.....in fact, PROBABLY(see definitely) a few more.
Before we get back to work on that stuff though, we have a show tomorrow night(Friday, 9/21) at The Rutledge, with The East Side Gamblers, and The Decadence. Show starts at 9, you've gotta be at least 18 years old to get in, unless you've got a parent or legal guardian schlepping you around, and it costs 5 bucks. We close this one down, with a nice, tight set of filler-free, shoulda-been hits, but the whole bill is pretty tits, so get there early and soak it in.
Then, on the other side of that business, the studio work, and that final video shoot, we will morphing, for one night only, into ALL STANLEY: A Tribute To The Songs Of The Starchild, at 12th & Porter on Friday, October 5th. We're doing a whole set of relatively obscure(most of which have never been played by KISS live) tunes originally sung by the one, the only Paul Stanley....some '78 solo album cuts, Unmasked, Rock N' Roll Over, Dynasty...even a deep cut from the German & Japanese-only Killers LP. We'll be opening for Spades Of Ace, an all-Ace Frehley tribute set, and you won't wanna miss this, because I'm pretty sure we'll never do it again. In fact, my vocal chords have been pleading with me not to do it THIS time, so please sing along as loud as you can.
On the shows front, we just added a date in Bowling Green, KY at Tidball's for Thursday, November 1st. Kentucky folks, mark your calendars...sorry it took us so long to get back out that way, we've been trying, honest.
We probably won't be doing that many more full-band shows between now and the end of the year, as we try to finish these records up, but I'll be doing the odd acoustic set here and there, and Kenny will be out and about with Bonepony, so keep your eyes peeled for news on those dates. Otherwise, we hope to see you at one of these upcoming dates, and we hope to have some new music to post soon, besides the monthly demo @ http://www.thegreataffairs.com (those will keep coming too though). Stay tuned.
I'm going for a walk...
You just can't beat a warmed-up Tofurkey Italian brat for breakfast, that is if the first meal of your day still qualifies as breakfast when consumed at 12:30PM. Whatever the case, that's how and when my Labor Day 2012 began, so happy Labor Day to those of you also seeing fit to celebrate by making poor dietary choices and oversleeping. Before I leave the impression that I'm chronically lazy, I did track, mix, and post a new solo demo over at http://www.thegreataffairs.com . This one is called "Right Down To The Truth", and it marks the first recorded appearance of my new mandolin. It'll be up there until October-ish, when I replace it with something else, as is the custom, so grab it while you can, if you care.
On to matters of actual significance, Kenny & I spent most of Friday in the studio with bassist Dave Webb(Sugarland), and our trusty engineer Michael Saint-Leon, laying down bass tracks for the first 7 tunes that we've settled on for the side-project record we hope to release in the not-too-distant future. The plan is to add a few more before we actually knuckle down on bringing in the full cast of guest players to help us flesh it out and polish it to a retail-ready sheen. As I'm pretty sure I've mentioned before, some of these songs have appeared elsewhere before, but never received their due respect, so we're dusting one or two of them off and giving them a second shot at life, placing them alongside a mess of new material in the album's sequence. We're hoping to improve on the originals, which is always a dicey proposition, but with the help of some ace players lending a hand, I'm pretty confident that we'll do them no injustice, OR you'll just never hear them, because I will dispose of any incriminating evidence.
While at The Switchyard, we pulled another half-completed track off of one of Kenny's hard-drives, called "Fists & Guitars". Salvaging the drum track, the plan is to tweak the lyrics, and add Patrick, Henry, and myself on our respective instruments, and let Kenny lay down a final vocal, so that we can add this to the new The Great Affairs EP. Speaking of that EP, 3 songs are nearly mixed to 100% satisfaction("Sherrybaby", "The Ring", and "Shame On You"), and we go in next week to cut proper versions of "Dyin' To", "Rock & Roll Heart", and "Gone", in addition to the previously mentioned overdubbing process required to bring "Fists & Guitars" home. We'll likely stop there, with those 7 tunes, but possibly adding some bonus material... more on that later. With any luck, we'll have this thing ready sometime in October or November, and Darrell Frasier, who we've been working on the "Sherrybaby" video with, will have a cut of that ready to go as well, so we can give the as-yet-untitled EP a proper launch.
Until then, I've got a solo acoustic show at Double T's in Morton, IL on Saturday, September 15th. It looks like I might be playing an outdoor afternoon set, and then a later indoor set, so stay tuned for details. I'm going to be in Illinois for a wedding in November, so I've booked another show there that weekend( Friday 11/16), as well as one the Saturday before Xmas(12/22), when I'll be in town to visit family and check on my record shop's holiday traffic.
For anyone who has messaged me about my Times News "Hearing Things" blog having vanished, never fear, they will reappear shortly. The publisher switched servers, and all the content is being transferred over the next week or so. They'll be back up, and I'll be back to spouting my nonsensical drivel in no time at all. In fact, I've got something on deck already, so please just keep your eyes peeled. I'll be sure to mention the new location on FaceBook, as soon as I have the details.
I think that's about it.
Sat., September, 15th Double T's. Morton, IL . Solo Acoustic set.
Fri., September 21st The Rutledge. Nashville, TN w/The East Side Gamblers @ 9, & The Decadence @ 10, TGA @ 11
Fri., October 5th 12th & Porter 9PM TGA as "All Stanley: A Tribute To The Songs Of The Starchild" (we do a full set of mostly obscure Paul Stanley-penned classics, before turning the stage over to Spades Of Ace: The Ace Frehley Tribute. This is gonna be a blast!)
Wed., October 24th Hard Rock Cafe, Nashville, TN 7PM w/DoryDrive
More shows TBA.
Folks, I'm truly sorry. With all of the "social networking" outlets to be updated, I have been rather remiss in maintaining this particular blog as of late. That is not to say things haven't been going on, because they have, just unbeknownst to anyone using this forum as their sole means of tracking such activities. Again, I hope you will accept my sincerest apologies, and continue reading, as I attempt to make up for these shortcomings.
Since we last spoke, we've played a few shows here in town, tested a couple of new cover tunes, shot most of the performance footage for the "Sherrybaby" video, guested at the most recent Billy Falcon's Sowing Circle, even strapped on our acoustics for a set, and more or less wrapped up the mixes on the first three new TGA songs to get a studio treatment.
Now, I'm off to Los Angeles for a few days, to do tourist-y things, and play a quick solo set at the Hard Rock Cafe on Hollywood Blvd. this Thursday, August 9th. While I'm there, I'm going to submit the demo(I'm actually tracking this afternoon)for a TV pilot theme I've been working on. You'd think cutting just a chorus, as opposed to having to write and record an entire song would be easier, but it's not....can't quite figure that out.
I haven't been that busy with new material lately, but I am gonna drop another freebie through www.thegreataffairs.com in a week or so...not sure yet which tune I wanna set loose...both are ballads, so anyone pining after riffs will have to get their fill elsewhere....stay tuned, and if you haven't grabbed July's offering, you might wanna grab it before it disappears, which could happen any day now.
Once I get back from California, we have a week or so to rehearse for our shows at The Rutledge in Nashville on Friday, August 24th, and Preservation Pub in Knoxville on Saturday, August 25th. Friday's show we'll be filming the last of the footage Darrell Frasier should need to finish up our new video, and we'll be joined by our good friend Joshua Ketchmark and his band, all the way from West Coast, as well as the debut of the new 100 Watt Opera lineup(Jesse Floyd, William Baugh, Billy Baker, Jonathan Bright, & John Alexander), who will be performing selections from all of their previous outfits, including Valentine Saloon, fORMER, Bombshell Crush, and more. Joshua & co. will be joining us in Knoxville as well, before returning to Nashville to do some honky-tonkin' on Sunday.
The following week, Kenny & I are back in the studio to work on some tracks for another non-TGA project we've been brewing. Some of these tunes are brand new, others are things we've been sitting on, or that we thought deserved a second chance at life. You might recognize some of the titles as ones I've sent out or given away on the site, and a couple of them appeared in rough demo form as bonus tracks on the Kool Kat physical release of "Happy Ender". So far(and the reference tracks of these just showed up in my inbox as I type), we've laid down drums for Nothing's Broken, Breathe Again, Crawl, I Am Reborn, That's My Girl, Let Me Go, and As Fine As You Are. We plan on tracking several more, as we find time, and we'll probably be doing a handful of new stuff with The Great Affairs too, in the midst of all this.
Beyond all that mess, I've got a show next month in Morton Illinois, during the world famous Pumpkin Festival, and we should have a few other dates popping up in the coming weeks, so keep checking in here, or on whichever of the various platforms I have to periodically overhaul with information. Right now, I'm gonna pack a bag and head for Tinseltown.
The dog days of summer are here, and with them all the attendant misery of life in TN when the mercury makes the slide past the 100º mark . Luckily, this year it is documented via constant Facebook posts featuring photos of various thermostats, so we know we're not crazy and the only ones feeling this heat. Thank you, amateur meteorologists, for confirming our sanity with your keen eye for these unique occurrences. Your work does not go unappreciated. Now, get out there and snap a shot of traffic on 24, so the rare phenomenon of gridlock does not go undocumented. It's your calling, clearly.
OK, now that I've got that bit of snark out of my system, here's what's up with The Great Affairs, and life in general around these parts.
We've been in and out of the studio the last few weeks, working on the first of several batches of tunes we'll be laying down this Summer and Fall. Tomorrow afternoon, Kenny & I are supposed to supervise the keyboard stylings of Michael Webb, as he drops in his parts on "The Ring" & "Shame On You". Once those are in place, and our engineer returns from some jet-setting, we'll dig into mixing those and "Sherrybaby", possibly to be used as part of a Great Affairs compilation, featuring stuff from the first 2 LPs, & the " Happy Ender" EP, since there are almost no physical copies of that stuff left anymore, and we need something for toting around to shows.
Speaking of "Sherrybaby", we're shooting a video for that tune with Darrell Frasier this Thursday afternoon/evening, at a couple of different locations. I'm not sure when this will be completed and ready for the eyes of the world, but hopefully right around the time that compilation CD I was just yammering about is set to appear.
As soon as we wrap that up, Patrick & I are splitting to Illinois for a few days, for business and family obligations, Henry's flying out somewhere...I can't recall...and Kenny is off with Bonepony for some dates. When we all reconvene, we'll get back to the business of playing some shows again.
The first thing on our books, is a Wednesday night, July 25th at The Rutledge, where it looks like we're gonna play a set mostly comprised of tunes we've never played live before, just to keep things interesting. I've never been a big fan of the "same set every night" rigmarole, so we're gonna ditch that notion in favor of keeping ourselves on our toes. Yeah, we might not be so tight, but we'll try to make loose look good. Besides, this is rock n' roll...it ain't supposed to be perfect. If you want perfect, go watch Shinedown(or any of their ilk, for that matter) pretend to be singing and playing all that shit "live". I promise you, if we're on stage, and you're hearing it, somebody up there is playing or singing it(good or bad)....unless you're unstable, in which case I have no idea what you might be hearing.
Alright, let me just climb down from my pulpit, and I'll continue....where was I?
Oh yeah, so we'll do that show on the 25th, and then Henry's gotta split for Atlanta for a few days, so I'm going to Vegas to squander all the money I make at The Rutledge on penny slots. When we both get back, it should be right about time to start mixing some tunes, and looking at when we're going to start overdubs on the rest of the tracks we have on deck...and just what to do with them when we're done.
In August, between work on that stuff and getting the live show together, Kenny has some Canadian dates with Bonepony, I'm going to Los Angeles for a few days, Henry heads to Minneapolis, and Patrick will be burning some Nag Champa and jamming along to Clapton records.
THEN, on the 24th, our good friend Joshua Ketchmark (http://www.joshuaketchmark.com) will be flying in from L.A. with his band, to celebrate the 2nd of 2 EPs he recorded here in Nashville last year. We'll be sharing the stage with him, and one other band(if we can ever said other band nailed down, that is) at The Rutledge, before rolling up yonder a piece to do it all over again the next night at Knoxville's Preservation Pub. Since we'll be closing these shows, we're gonna try to put together a slightly longer set than the usual 35-45 minutes we normally get on these bills. We'll pull out some new tunes and a few things we haven't done in a while.I think those of you that have been around for a while will be pleased...at least I hope so.
It would mean a lot to us, if you all would help us pack this one for Joshua. We've been trying to get something like this together ever since he came here to track with us in 2011. Check out his site to hear samples of stuff he did with fORMER and Bonepony backing him up.
I think that's about it for now. There should be a new demo tune up soon for free download at http://www.thegreataffairs.com I've tracked three different ones over the past couple weeks, so I'm not sure which one I wanna throw up there just yet. Stay tuned.
p.s. I added a few new videos to the "home" page here, so check 'em out....stuff with Best Of Seven, Bombshell Crush, The Beauty School Dropouts, and Lucky Drag.
.....and thus "Mellow Colon and the Definite Madness" may be birthed.. Yeah, that's right, in an age when most recording artists are attempting to find clever ways to reinvent the "album cycle", releasing expanded singles, EPs, "capsules" etc., basically anything but an actual full-length record, because; let's face it, fewer and fewer people seem inclined to actually buy the damn things these days. It really does appear more or less unnecessary....not to mention cost-prohibitive, once you factor in the potential margins.
So, with all that in mind, what do the forward-thinking minds behind The Great Affairs decide to do? Oh yeah, that's it, let's make a DOUBLE ALBUM. It was that, or just pile this money up in my backyard, light it, and toast marshmallows over it, which seemed wasteful....or MORE wasteful, perhaps.
Actually, it has yet to be determined if this will be an actual The Great Affairs record, or something else entirely, since we're using a handful of extremely qualified individuals from outside our ranks to supplement the performance(and writing, occasionally) side of things. Either way, we've laid down 10 drum tracks, with six more on deck for the next session, and now Kenny has brought up the fact that we may have overlooked a few possible contenders for inclusion.
You see, I took a hands-off approach on the selection process this time around, something I've been trying to do with several areas of the band's operations and logistics. I simply brought an iPod loaded with 40 or 50(or more...I don't really know) songs to Kenny's place, let him listen through, and choose whichever ones grabbed him as worth taking a crack at. I decided to leave my opinion out of the mix, which is why certain tunes from the demos I've been sending out with the mailing list didn't make the cut. For once, I'm deferring to everyone else's judgement, and standing fast in neutral territory.
So, with the unearthing of demos for I'm Not Crazy, Sleepwalking, Too Far Gone, I Should've Known, The Lonely One, She's Got Your Eyes, and a few more, we have definitely busted the seams of a single-disc collection. Say hello to the double record.
Tomorrow morning, Patrick, Henry, & I start work on guitar & bass overdubs on 3 or 4 of the tracks that have been designated TGA numbers: Sherrybaby, The Ring, & Shame On You. From there, I guess we'll start looking at how to pull off this new game plan. Now seriously, I realize we have no business doing it this way, as there is hardly a demand for such nonsense, but why not?? We get points for ambition, right?
It seems like forever since I've gotten to do work at my home-away-from-home The Switchyard, but last Thursday, Kenny & I popped in for 8 hours or so, and laid down drums on the first batch of tunes that will presumably make up most of our new, as-yet unnamed project's record, as well as a handful of songs that are slated to find their way onto some sort of forthcoming release from The Great Affairs. Here's what's shaping up so far:
AS FINE AS YOU ARE
LET ME GO
I AM REBORN
SHAME ON YOU
THAT'S MY GIRL
Some of these may sound familiar, as they've been made available as free demo downloads via our email list or The Great Affairs' ReverbNation account, and a few others may older numbers that have been seemingly forgotten, and (we think) due for a second life right about now.
We resume work on the next batch of tunes, as well as a couple of tracks for our buddy Joshua Ketchmark, on Monday, June 11th, that should include the following:
SOMEONE I USED TO KNOW(No relation to that Gotye song...one of Kenny's that's been gathering dust for a while.)
MAKE IT OUT(yeah, that one....we're gonna take this bird in for some updates, and we're pulling in a couple of ringers to help us spruce it up. If we kill it instead of making it stronger, you'll probably never even hear it.)
MISS AMERICA(another old-school tune of mine, that has as-yet defied attempts to be captured as I originally conceived it in my head all those years ago....we're gonna take one more stab, employing the same cats I'm hoping will inject a little new magic into "Make It Out"...again, an experiment, but this one has been nagging at me for years.)
A SECRET'S A SECRET
Now, there are a few more new ideas that might join this ever-growing list, and I'm not exactly sure where any of this stuff is going to materialize in publicly-consumable form, or when, for that matter......BUT, we are working away at it, so if we disappear from radar for a bit, we haven't crashed, we're simply operating at a lower altitude as we put the pieces together.
More on all this and then some very soon.
20-some odd songs to choose from for next weekend's 3-day run...2 40-minute shows Thursday & Friday, and one 80-minute set Saturday(that may end up going longer since our co-headliners might be short a guitarist)....this is what we're looking at. I'm not gonna lie, we'll be flying by the seat of our pants on a few of these, but we're determined to make such haphazardness look damn good, so rest easy in the knowledge that any mistakes will be made with flair.
Once this inaugural shake-out of the new lineup is complete(you never know how well folks are gonna work together 'til you cram 'em in a van for a few days and see if they can play nice in close quarters), we should have enough footage to complete the "How Does It Feel" video, and be sufficiently greased up to start doing a few more shows.
I feel like I neglect this site sometimes, so I just figured I'd post this real quick since I was already working on a blog about constructing a set-list, for next Monday's edition of "Hearing Things". Here's to a good weekend...hope to see you all soon.
The Great Affairs
Sassy's Lounge, Nolensville Rd., Nashville, TN, this past Saturday night...it went something like this...Me, my Hummingbird acoustic, a couple of harmonicas, and my trusty lyric book...oh yeah, Henry Go tagged along for a few numbers too.
En route, we cranked a little Nelson "After The Rain", getting our game faces on for the gig. Sadly, we only had an hour to play, or I would've turned Hank loose on some "(Can't Live Without Your)Love And Affection".
As for what we DID end up playing, it looked a little like the following:
Feels Like Home
Sick For Love
Let Me Go(new song...probably the next demo going out with the email blast)
I Am Reborn(Prodigal Suns cover...Kenny's old band)
Anything(Best Of Seven cover)
Only In My Head(Best Of Seven/Bombshell Crush)
Needles & Pins(by request)
In The Gray
I was just THIS close to busting out Corey Hart's "Never Surrender", but I refrained...still, it's gonna happen, whether Kenny likes it or not....and that means Henry's Nelson cover is still on the table too. Consider this a warning.
Next weekend we'll be up in Clarksville, opening up The Warehouse's Cinco De Mayo festivities, headlined by LIT. Doors open at 8, and we'll be on shortly thereafter. Tickets are available @
Tickets: $15 advance, $20 day of show, 19 & up only.
From there, a couple of weeks off to work on new material and changes to the set for our TN, AL, GA run May 17th, 18th, & 19th, followed by Kenny & I making a quick trip to the studio to start work on another little project that may also yield a couple of new songs for a The Great Affairs compilation we're thinking about pressing to have on hand at shows, since most of our CD stock is sold out....more news on that later.
See you soon,
p.s. Anyone that hasn't checked out my "Hearing Things" blog for The Times Newspapers, head over to >>
I'd like to keep doing these, and I'm sure my fate in that department rests on whether or not anyone is reading them, so please do. Thank you.
I'm back in Nashville, glad for a night's sleep in my own bed, and waking up to my dog Cash licking my face, but that's not to say I didn't have a blast on my brief road trip.
I came home with a new Fender Strat and a Vox AC30 that I'd long been wanting to add to my arsenal, so any money I might've put in my pocket(or gas tank) as planned, was diverted, not that it would have put a dent in my tab anyway.
For all the money I lost this week, I'm pretty sure I gained a couple of pounds, from all the Taco John's I ate, seeing as it became a more or less daily stop.
As for the shows, we debuted the new lineup of The Great Affairs, which consists of myself, Henry, & Patrick of fORMER, and Kenny Wright of Bonepony(for anyone not keeping up), on Friday, the 13th at The Rutledge. We did about half of the latest fORMER record, a couple of old favorites, 3 or 4 tunes from The Great Affairs catalog, and a pair of oddball Cheap Trick covers, "I Can't Take It", and "Reach Out"(from the 1981 Heavy Metal soundtrack). It felt good to see people digging on this reconfigured variation of the band. We plan on keeping this interesting as we proceed, adding a revolving cast of unique covers to the set, drawing a bit more from our well of recorded material, and slowly introducing new tunes along the way.
Speaking of new tunes, it looks like I'm going to be doing another solo acoustic set, this time in Nashville, at some joint called Sassy's Lounge, on Nolensville Rd. this Saturday, April 28th. I go on around 8 or 9, doing 45 minutes to an hour of whatever the hell I feel like busting out, I guess. With that in mind, I'll probably do a little bit of everything, and probably take a couple of new ideas for a test drive while I'm at it. I hear the show's free, so if any or all of this intrigues you, come on down.
Back to the road...I left Nashville for Cincinnati on Saturday, and most of the details of this adventure are chronicled in one of my Hearing Things blogs under the heading "The Glamorous Life"...check that out. The Cliff Notes version: Billy Carri played, I drank beer, people bought me more beer, I played, some people paid attention, some people talked...LOUDLY, Atlantis Becoming played, I drank more beer...and a couple of shots(Thanks, John), I sold stuff...CDs, T-shirts, etc., beer got spilled in the stuff I sell, Billy Carri played some more, belligerent drunk with funny mustache heckled Billy Carri, I prayed for mustache guy's life, backup arrived, mustache exited the premises, crisis averted, more beer, got paid. Next thing I know, I wake up in a Walmart parking lot somewhere in Indiana. All of the above is 100% true and accurate, as far as I recall.
I spent Sunday sleeping and drinking Margaritas...not at the same time.
Monday, I worked in my shop, caught up on the latest comings and goings in Pekin, IL, and read a book.
Tuesday, I played The Brass Rail with the esteemed Jeremy David Baker of ELTORO, who brought me a couple of shots during my set(much obliged, sir), and afterwards I got to catch up some with my ex-Loveshine bandmates, and a handful of other folks I don't see enough of these days. The evening ended with my mother dragging my grown ass out of the bar, as she had made the determination that it would be in my best interests to exit while still upright. I believe she was correct. Thank you, Mom, and thank you Nic Bell for giving me another place to trot out my ditties, and make a little ching. You are a kind and generous soul, no matter what anyone says, and even though you love Nickelback.
Thursday night, I popped into TNT's in East Peoria, IL, for my buddy Don Mabus's open stage. My former Best Of Seven bandmate Rob Wood had flown in to visit his family, so we got up and did a few songs...we were not awesome, but it was fun, for us at least.
Taco John's again....after taking a "shortcut" that got my lost on some Creve Coeur backroads for 15 minutes. Thank God for GPS.
The next morning, I hit the road with a truck full of swag, and a "books on tape" of Rodney Crowell's memoir "Chinaberry Sidewalks" for company. I made it to Nashville in just under 7 hours.
From here, I've got the acoustic show Saturday, rehearsals with the band for our show with Lit on the 5th in Clarksville, as well as a string of road dates in mid-May, but I'll also be cranking away in the studio.
OK then, I've gotta go grocery shoppin', Record Store Day'n, gettin' to a cookout this afternoon, and a rock show this evening, so.....
The Great Affairs just wrapped up a rehearsal, which was preceded by a
very brief photo shoot that should produce some images of the current
lineup very soon.
Things are coming along nicely. We've got about an hour's worth of
material, including a couple of forgotten gems from the Cheap Trick
catalog that we're putting our stamp on, hopefully in time to roll them
out for the folks in Bowling Green next week(4/5) at Tidball's, where
we'll be joined by former TGA bassist Matt Andersen's new band The
The set is pretty evenly split between tunes from The Great Affairs and
fORMER, and we'll be adding a few more from each band in the coming weeks,
as well as some other select works from our respective back pages. We're
not excluding anything from our prior involvements, so it's hard to say
what kind of songs might make their way into the set as this thing
After Tidball's, we make our Nashville debut at The Rutledge on Friday,
April 13th, and the next day I'm on a solo run to Cincinnati, and an
acoustic set , opening for my good friend Billy Carri. I've put together a
pretty lengthy list of possible numbers for this show, but if anyone who
is planning to attend wants to chuck a request at me, now would be a good
From there, we have a few weeks to resume the business of building our
songbook, but we'll be doing a handful of dates in May, including TN, AL,
& GA stops, so keep checking our calendar, because we'll probably be
We have some other stuff in the works that doesn't yet warrant revealing,
but rest assured you will be seeing quite a bit more of The Great Affairs
than you were used to seeing fORMER as of late. We'll be doing our best to
make up for slacking on the live side of things this last year or so.
See you soon,
p.s. I forgot to mention that there is now a page on the
site(www.dennysmithmusic.com) that features the lyrics for most of the TGA
& fORMER releases, and I added a new video for 'Finding Grace' to the
homepage. Check that stuff out when you get a chance.
p.s.s. Check out this review of Joshua Ketchmark's new EP that I
co-produced with Michael Saint-Leon:
With Vegas in the rear-view, it's back to the business of re-building a band.
Step 1: Choose the material from our collective back catalog that we want to hold onto, build a set, and start rehearsing with these guys.
Step 2: Introduce the new lineup to the folks in our backyard, here in Nashville, and see how they take to us mixing things up some.
Step 3: If this goes well, start booking dates and getting this thing happening.
In the midst of all the above, it looks like I'm headed out on a quick solo acoustic tour April 12-23rd(with a brief stop in Nashville on the 13th to facilitate Step 2) with Cinder Road's Mike Ruocco, and Billy Carri. Looks like we'll be hitting cities in TN, OH, MI, PA, and possibly KY.
2012...so far, so good. Now, if I could just shake this gambling problem.
Hey, unless you're U2, it's gonna happen. Life gets in the way, priorities change, injuries leave you benched just long enough to realize you don't really wanna do this anymore, marriages end in divorces as a direct result of your OTHER marriage to the band(or vice versa)...the list of potential reasons is long, and riddled with excuses of varying legitimacy; if such a thing can even be qualified. Suffice it to say, however big or small, reasonable or ridiculous, considered or hip-shot the cause for departure may seem to be, it's still a tough row to hoe when the time comes, whether you're being shown the door, giving the axe, or watching a valuable part of your team take their final bow as a conspirator, by choice.
I've been on both sides of that fence too many times, and it never gets any easier to deliver the news, or admit that it's really no news at all, just something that you all knew was coming....one way or the other.
I had to bail on a wheezing and near-lifeless Best Of Seven when I moved to Nashville to join Bombshell Crush, and today I had to part ways with the player who was my primary reason for heading south in the first place, Billy Baker. While by no means long-in-the-tooth, Mr. Baker has been around the block a time or two, and despite still being one of the baddest(and loudest) drummers to grace a stage, he's just not into the idea of getting out and seeing the country in a van one more time at this point in his life. I can't say I blame him, it's not always fun, even in moderation.
So, with Billy exiting the picture, we've considered putting the fORMER name to rest, much to the relief of an exhausted Google, I'm sure, as choosing such a common adjective for our moniker has proven to be the bane of search engines the world over anyway. Instead, we will roll fORMER's material into that of our previous side-project The Great Affairs, and resume work, most likely under that heading.
There are some additional details in this recent interview: http://rockulusmaximus.com/Q-and-A-DENNY-SMITH.php
Truthfully, this is one of the rare occasions when a transition of this nature takes place with a relatively painless ease, perhaps because both parties were anxious to get on with the business of doing whatever it is they weren't able to do together. All I know is that we made some great records, whether "Joe & Mary Beercan"(as Billy is fond of saying) ever gave us our due or not, and I'm pretty certain we'll work together on something down the line, but for now, we've got separate paths to forge.
Billy, you'll always be like a brother to me, and I wish you nothing but the best. Thanks for some great years.
Best Of Seven was my true introduction to the non-retail side of the music industry. I mean, sure, I'd played in bands locally, released my own music, and done everything in my power to squeeze onto bills with whatever up-and-coming or down-and-out national act needed a support band on their way through Central Illinois, but I had never imagined the machine to be even remotely like what it actually was.
I had never been "produced"....no, wait..not entirely true. It was once brought to my attention, while recording at a studio in Bartonville, that one of my guitar leads wasn't very good, and should be re-written. In my defense, one of the fingers on my fretting hand was held together with spray-on skin(that stuff that appears to be nothing but an aerosol Super Glue), because I had more or less split it in half on a seam of poorly welded metal a day or two earlier at work. In retrospect, as good as that excuse may have been, my playing didn't suffer from the injury...it suffered from my lack of measurable talent at the time.
I had never been told how to dress or what color my hair needed to be to insure commercial success. Obviously, these skills elude me to this day, but I did my best to keep up with the schooling.
I had never been told how to stand or hold a guitar, or made to practice in front of full-length mirrors in order to do so "correctly". Again, these are the "performing arts", I suppose.
I had never been told who to be, probably because I was pretty sure who I already was. Maybe not though, since the bio on our website had me listed as two years younger than I had previously believed myself to be.
All of this, and much, much more, only to fall short in our attempts at grabbing that brass ring, makes looking back on the whole thing rather bittersweet.
But, I had no choice, when it was brought to my attention that a little indie label calling themselves Demon Doll Records was interested in releasing a compilation of our old material.
Fastlane Records had released one BO7 album in 2003, comprised of stuff from a variety of sessions spanning 1999-2002, and despite some solid reviews, and the fact that it sold fairly well, let's just say there was some "dispute" over accounting that resulted in both parties agreeing a split was in order. I was already long gone from the lineup at this point, but my image, material, and performances were all over the release, and I was always rather disappointed in the eventual outcome, regardless of the fact that I had anticipated it from the word go.
Fast forward to 2011, BO7 singer Shane Tassart & I began digging through our "vaults" to find master recordings, previously unreleased songs from some of the same sessions the Fastlane release was culled from, and whatever odds n' ends we thought might make for a comprehensive retrospective on the band. Before too long, we had 40 or 50 tracks, including a handful of material from 2009 and 2011 projects we had worked on via long-distance file exchange.
Deciding what would make the cut was a tough process, and I still don't know if we made the "right" ruling on the final roll call, but we only had 78 minutes of space at our disposal, and the 19 songs that made the grade were the result of much hemming and hawing, so I hope our compromises pass muster when this thing hits the streets on February 14th.
Coming on like a hybrid of Goo Goo Dolls, Cheap Trick, Bon Jovi, and Foo Fighters....ladies and gentlemen, Best Of Seven's "Turn It On Again"..remastered, for your listening pleasure, in deluxe stereo sound, with extensive liner notes and embarrassing photographs for you to marvel at.
Buy now @
....maybe we'll get paid this time.
I just got back from a week of doing nothing in Los Angeles, and no, I did not kill and dismember the elderly gentlemen found in Griffith Park...sorry to disappoint you. I did, however, kill several beers, and stay out way too late once or twice, if that helps to restore my ailing cred. Also newsworthy, we'll be at The Nick in Birmingham on the 10th of February, and behind the kit, filling in for Corey, who has been filling in for Billy, will be none other than Kenny Wright from Bonepony. Kenny is a sweet guy, and an all-around musical badass, so we should be in good hands. We're gonna take this opportunity to throw in a handful of tunes from The Great Affairs' records, since we've been tossing around the idea of doing some more TGA shows with Kenny on drums in the near future. This should make for a pretty cool set, so I hope some of you kids can come out. The following night(2/11), I'll be guest-singing one of my own songs with Andy Aquino's Birthday Bash pick-up band, at The Rutledge. The mighty Dan Halen is on the bill as well, so join us for what will undoubtedly result in many hangovers. The very next weekend(2/18), fORMER will be back at The Rutledge, with Corey back on the throne, and bashing through a set of our favorites and a few obscure numbers that we've brought out of hiding for just such an occasion as him sitting in with us. Please help us celebrate Ogy Joe's birthday by raising your glasses(and voices) when he joins us for a number late in the set. Trust me, I've heard the guy sing, he's gonna need it. We've been getting some interesting press overseas lately, so if you haven't been to our facebook page recently, check out some links at http://www.facebook.com/formernashville Also, if you get a chance, head over to my blog for The Times Newspapers, to read up on some stuff that's not always so band-centric. You can find that at: http://www.mortontimesnews.com/community/blogs/hearing_things_blog I think that's it for now. Just a couple of shows coming up in March & April, as we wait to see how Billy will spring back from his surgery, and what happens next. Keep checking the official page at: http://www.dennysmithmusic.com and the facebook profile for all the latest goings-on. Best, Denny
I was doing some artwork for thel website the other day, and I found myself overcome with a feeling of pride as I looked back over my creative output from the last 10 years. 10+ releases with 4 different acts since 2000...2 LPs with Best Of Seven, 2 more with Bombshell Crush, 2 EPs & 2 LPs with fORMER, and 3 LPS with The Great Affairs....not bad for a guy who in 1999 had given up on any notion of pursuing music as a career, if I do say so myself.
Granted, none of these records has propelled me to glory, or done much to line my wallet by any significant measure, but each one has drawn enough attention, and inspired sufficient affection from whatever constituency I've assembled in my travels to warrant a followup. What I've begun to wonder is when will that reward no longer be enough?
This reflection comes at an odd time too, as I've recently begun to question whether or not I want to continue this cycle of what is essentially non-profit work. As much as I enjoy doing what it is I do, and regardless of the compensation-to-labor ratio being somewhat cockeyed, the urge to invest myself in other endeavors can be overwhelming at times.
Would my time be better spent concentrating on crafting songs for other artists? Yeah, probably(see definitely)....no guarantee of positive financial yield, but far greater likelihood of eventual profit. Of course, I do actually apply myself to this type of work, when I feel like it, but certainly not on a regular basis, because quite frankly, I'd rather be writing and recording stuff for MY band to perform, even if we're doing so for peanuts as opposed to the legitimate wealth that might be generated by landing a cut on even a modestly successful pop or country record.
These opportunities present themselves all the time, and I do what it is I always do, make a "note to self" to work on such and such for so and so.....just as soon as I wrap up this killer idea for MY next record that I'm well aware is essentially nothing more than a vanity project designed to keep me (and my heart) in the game.
If any of this sounds like complaining, it's not. My life is great, and I almost always enjoy where this work takes me, but I find myself thinking out loud more and more often about what happens next, and when do I need to make the conscious decision to change gears. I suspect that fork in the road is fast approaching.
In the morning, I'll be on a plane to Los Angeles, and I'm hoping to find some clarity on this trip, some perspective, away from my day to day routine....in the place, and with the people that set me back down this path in the first place. I'd hate to imagine my life without the experiences I've had since first setting foot in that rehearsal room in Burbank some 12 years ago, but no one is immune to contemplating "the road less traveled" scenario from time to time....certainly not me.
Maybe going back through all this old material has made me a bit wistful, but there is definitely a change in the air.
OK, folks, here's the skinny on fORMER, etc. We played The Warehouse in Clarksville Saturday night. Corey Boise filled in on drums, because our man Billy Baker has a hernia that is going to require surgery. This means that until he's back in the saddle, we'll either be laying low, utilizing Corey when available, or stripping it down and playing as a 3-piece acoustic act. Unfortunately, we don't know yet just when to expect him back, so here are the details on the shows coming up that may or may not be affected. Friday, February 10th. The Nick. Birmingham, AL. We will most likely be tackling this acoustically. Corey can't do this one with us, so unless Billy makes a miraculous recovery, we'll have no other choice than to go that route or cancel altogether....which we have always refused to do. Saturday, February 11th. I'll be joining whatever cast of characters Andy Aquino has assembled for his annual birthday bash at The Rutledge in Nashville, to cover one of my own songs with them. We'll be doing "Lies" as per Andy's birthday request. For the record, I was honored to be asked, and as weird as it may be to get up on stage without a guitar on, I will do my best to restrain my inner David lee Roth, so as not to jeopardize anyone's safety. Saturday, February 18th we'll be playing another birthday party, this one for Ogy Joe, also at The Rutledge, and most likely with Corey once again behind the kit, that is unless Billy tells us otherwise. If Corey is back there, we will once again be shaking the set up and playing some tunes we haven't played in a while, and will likely never play again, so we'll try to make it a cool event in spite of being down a man....maybe even having a surprise guest or two....who knows? Finally, March 3rd we'll be opening up a bill that includes Adalene, A New Rebel, and DoryDrive...again at The Rutledge....and hopefully Billy will be back to kicking the usual ass, because Corey is NOT available to cover for him, and we'd really hate to bail on this show. So, stay tuned, because we hope to have some idea of how soon he goes under the knife and how long he'll require to recuperate by the end of this week. Next week, I'm heading to L.A. for a few days to do some writing, and lots of nothing, so I can hopefully come back recharged, to a drummer on the mend, and start plotting a course for 2012. OH YEAH..TNIGHT(Monday 1/9)....10:30PM on Fuel TV. I'm an extra in a fight scene on "Punk Payback"...look for the guy in black jeans and beanie, blue t-shirt, and dark-rimmed glasses, hanging out by the racks while some kid gets taught a lesson. See you soon, Denny
More on this later....but, suffice it to say, for the sake of my sanity, and the band's future, we need to put a few of our old standbys out to pasture....sooooo, if you wanna pay your respects, you might wanna do it soon..REAL soon.
Well, here we are...well, me at least.....hopefully you are NOT in front of your computer, but rather spending the day with your family/friends. Whatever the case, and whenever or wherever this transmission finds you, Merry Christmas!
Since it is the season of giving, I'm going to be sending out a demo of a new, never before aired tune called "Dyin' To" to anyone on our mailing list that drops me a line to let me know they'd like to hear it. I'd send it to everyone, but the geniuses that designed Listbaby, our email service, did not allow for attachments with their fancy emails...sorry.(NOTE: If you're not on our email list, you should be, so if you wanna hear this and other new tracks as they come to life, please sign up and let me know to send you whatever you may have missed. Thanks.)
Now, keep in mind that this is just a demo track, cut here in the ever-evolving home project studio affectionately dubbed Pastry Park. I'm actually the only human being playing on the track, so please don't hold any shortcomings against the rest of fORMER's more than capable musical contributors, because they should not be held responsible for my inadequacies as ancillary bassist or drum programmer.
I've cut a handful of these new tunes in recent weeks, as we've begun the process of weeding through the "Kids.." leftovers, and whatever new stuff that's been brought to the table for a proposed LP #3, using them to help me learn the new equipment as well as hopefully expediting the "thinning of the herd" by getting a better idea of what the finished product might sound like without spending the dough to find out the hard(i.e. expensive) way. Last time around, we had upwards of 30 songs to choose from, and it can get a little tense when you're deciding which "kids" get adopted, and which ones get left on some stranger's doorstep.
Now, on to an even bigger rub. Money. We still haven't fully recouped the funds we put into the last record, mainly due to the long hiatus we went on prior to recording it, and in part because we haven't played many shows since its release. Starting with ZERO dollars put us at a distinct disadvantage, but we managed to scrape the cash together to finish and press "The Kids Deserve Cable", not knowing whether or not anyone would even be interested in buying a CD from us in 2011, since it seemed they weren't buying them from pretty much ANY OTHER bands these days either. Surprisingly enough,(THANK YOU!!) we sold quite a few(but there are still plenty available, so don't be shy about hitting up our online store.), and we'd love to do another one, be it a strictly digital release, or another physical pressing. The only obstacle would be of a financial nature. You see, these things we once knew as albums are not cheap to do, if you wanna do 'em right, like in a real studio, with an actual engineer, quality mics, outboard gear, etc.
So, while we formulate a plan to pull the cash together, and play some shows to get out of that last hole, WHILE writing what we hope to be the best batch of stuff we've ever put together, all I ask is that those of you who wanna hear more from us in the new year, PLEASE>>>>>
1)Spread the word. Tell your friends about this site...our Facebook(facebook.com/formernashville)
2)Keep coming out to shows and singing along. You do wonders for our self-esteem, and it makes the whole thing worthwhile. Not to mention, the more bodies we can consistently put in these rooms, the better chance we have of seeing you more often.
3)Support the bands you love. Buy their merch. CDs, downloads, t-shirts. These purchases, no matter how big or small, are keeping gas in the tank, and studio time in reach. Food is always nice too, and seldom free.
4)Stay in touch with us. Let us know what you think of the new stuff...hell, let us know what you think of the old stuff. There's not much we can do about it now, but it might help us make better setlists in the future, or keep us from repeating the same mistakes, like that schmedium schweater Henry wore that one time.
In return, we'll do our best to treat every show like an event, and see that you get your money's worth. We'll also apply ourselves to the task of making a great record, if that's what's in the cards for 2012. You tell us. We're in this together, so suggestions are welcome. Fire away.
Back to National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.......
Well, folks, we've ceased operations for the year, on the live front at least. We had a brief glimmer of hope for a New Years Eve show that has failed to work itself out to our advantage, so we're going back to work in the basement of Pastry Park, prepping sets for some January & February out-of-town dates that I'll be posting shortly, AS WELL AS commencing the writing process for LP #3, the followup to "The Kids Deserve Cable".
I've got an idea in mind for this one that I intend to share with the rest of the guys on Wednesday, and it involves basically scuttling most or all of the material we've amassed since starting the last record, and more or less starting from scratch. Since we didn't play favorites with the song selection on the last one, and really just cut them in no specific order, we had a long list of tunes we really liked that got edged out due to time and budget constraints. Since I recently upgraded my home studio setup, I've been backtracking and doing full demos of some of these songs, to see if we might want to revisit them as a band when the next recording sessions come around. So far, 4 of them are complete, "You Won't Get It Here", "This Is Low", "Sherrybaby", and "Something Better Than This"(which is actually a new song Henry brought in...so it doesn't actually count as a leftover). There are roughly 15 others floating out there in either lo-fi or acoustic demo form, and if my schedule will permit, I'm going to attempt to work up every last one of them, if only for posterity sake.
BUT, right now, since it is the Xmas season, and we have merch to sell, and a balance in the red, I'm going to offer the following deal...from now through December 20th:
Order one of the new "The Kids Deserve Cable" T-shirts from our official page (go to the STORE tab in the header)
and get not only a FREE copy of the "Kids.." CD, but we'll send you 2 of these new, previously unreleased songs in .mp3 form.
So, for $15($20 if you order girls or XXL), you get a new shirt, a new CD, and 2 new songs. THAT is a a spectacular deal, if you ask me....yeah, I know you didn't, but I'm sellin' here, so work with me.
Again, this is now through 12/20, so don't wait, 'cause that's a roughly 1 week window to cloth yourself and do your ears a favor for one low, low price.
Act NOW!!!! (I always wanted to say that.)
p.s. Your name might go on a list to receive other new songs as they are completed....maybe....just sayin'.
OK, so you may have heard it mentioned that this Saturday, December 3rd will be fORMER's last show for the year. It's actually our last show period, as far as I can tell from my calendar, so in the event we don't get anything else lined up for a while, I really hope some of you can make it down to The Rutledge for one last blowout.
We've had to do a handful of shows acoustically, while Billy dealt with some personal issues, and I'm sorry to anyone who was expecting the full band, but these things have been addressed, and Billy is back on board for this weekend's show, so pack earplugs if you're sensitive to excessive volume.
We'll be filming some B-roll and live footage this weekend, for use in a pair of clips we're editing together of "Head Light", and "How Does It Feel", in case you wanna get gussied up for the occasion.
We'll also have our new t-shirts on hand, so don't spend every penny at the bar, 'cause we've got Xmas presents to buy too. Speaking of gifts, what better stocking stuffer for kids of all ages than a fORMER "The Kids Deserve Cable" T? I know, right? There isn't one.
So, show Saturday, and then what? I honestly don't know. I guess we'll get together soon and figure out what we wanna do in 2012. In the meantime, I've wrapped up 3 fresh tracks in my new project studio, and I'm gonna lay into a few more this week. I'm not exactly sure what will become of these tunes, but I assume time will tell. They may be the beginnings of a future fORMER record, or maybe they'll become part of some digital "exclusive"...hell, maybe we'll just give them away to folks who order CDs and T-shirts. Again, these are things we need to figure out....and we will, I promise.
If nothing else, I'm going to be doing A LOT more recording, and you'll be able to grab some of that stuff right here, so keep checking in. I suspect the winter months will have me holed up at home, toiling away in mad scientist mode on this stack of "Kids.." leftovers and new tunes, not to mention stuff that would have most likely been another release from The Great Affairs. I'm not sure I'll ever catch up to it all, but I'm for damn sure gonna try.
Anyway, see you Saturday(or not), and stay tuned for updates on the band...new shows, videos, and such....and please continue spreading the gospel, so we can keep this thing alive. A band like fORMER lives and dies by word of mouth, and you're all we've got besides each other and these songs.
(actually composed on 11/15/2011)
So my girlfriend walks in after work last night, and hands me a package from California. Now, I could lie and say I wasn't expecting it, but the truth is, I'd been quietly composing an ugly email message for the good folks at deadclubs.com concerning the Thirsty Whale t-shirt I'd ordered AND PAID FOR over a month ago. I had nearly drafted and fired my initial salvo of consumer frustration the previous day, but found myself tied up in more pressing matters. Thankfully that detour sidelined any heated correspondence, because those swell kids; presumably wracked with guilt over their inability to ship my wares in a timely fashion, threw in a size medium Madame Wong's shirt, free of charge. Patience is indeed a virtue....or whatever.
Most of you reading this are probably wondering what a "Thirsty Whale" is. Well, in my younger days, when hair was bigger, pants were tighter, and my wallet lighter, a select group of associates I called a band would trek to Chicago's "Wrigleyville" AKA "boys town", where we would shop for stage clothes made of exotic fabrics like crushed velvet & pleather. We would also get a crash course in pan-handling and out-and-proud gay culture, two things we didn't see on our rural streets back home.
I can remember parking my girlfriend's(same one mentioned above....don't ask about marriage, please...I only have so much space at my disposal.) overheating Ford Tempo behind an apartment complex, while the four of us ran into a joint called The 99th Floor to grab a faux suede jacket I'd had my eye on for months. Upon our return(jacket-less, mind you...sold out....never did get one), our borrowed wheels were gone! Assuming our ride had been purloined by local hoodlums, it wasn't until one of us glanced up at the sign hanging above the empty space it had just occupied....you know, the one declaring the lot "private parking. violators towed at owner's expense"??...Yeah, that one. Let me tell you something, you haven't lived until you've see 4 guys looking like they just got off the road with Firehouse, jogging a dozen blocks in cowboy boots and skinny jeans, to the nearest police station, so they can get a heads-up as to which impound yard might be harboring their beater. A few more swift strides through what I'm pretty sure was the same neighborhood "Judgement Night" was filmed in, and 80 borrowed dollars later, we had wheels.
Now, where does The Thirsty Whale fit into this? The Thirsty Whale was a rock club on Grand Ave., way out in River Grove, IL. It was the place we REALLY wanted to(and eventually would, in the most disappointing fashion) play. It had been around since the 70s(it's now a BP/McDonald's), and several of our heroes had played there over the years. They'd host 2 shows a night on the weekends, one all ages, the other 21 & up, so we were able to get in to the early show, take notes on everything from which pointy head-stocked guitar was coolest to which pose we should employ in our next promo shot(train tracks or brick wall covered in graffiti?).
We'd generally coordinate our journeys based around someone like Lillian Axe or Enuff Z'Nuff playing there, someone we just HAD to see,...but once....the choice made itself.
Now, remember those cowboy boots?(like Nancy Sinatra said "made for walkin' ", but definitely not for running) Well, I had bought myself a pretty sweet pair, (which looked especially good worn on the OUTSIDE of my jeans, as was the fashion at the time....or so I was lead to believe.) but I only tried on the left boot, mainly because it was the only one displayed, but also because both of my feet are conveniently pretty much the same size. I had the clerk grab a pair from the back, paid for my purchase, and back to Central Illinois we went.
250 miles later, I discovered I had been sold TWO LEFT BOOTS! To this day, my old boss Bob Long calls me "Lefty"!
I had no choice but to saddle up, enlist my buddy Josh to ride shotgun, and head back to Chicago the following weekend, to procure my right kick.
Mission accomplished and already in the vicinity, we decided to head out to The Thirsty Whale, where we caught a set by metal C-listers TUFF, a set complete with a meltdown and near fisticuffs between the drummer and an impossibly mammoth-coifed guitarist.
TUFF's frontman, Stevie Rachelle, would go on to form the infamous website Metal Sludge, where I would eventually do an interview some 15 years later, promoting my band at the time, Bombshell Crush's appearance at the New Years Eve event he was hosting in Cleveland, OH. I made sure to mention to him that night that I had once travelled all the way to Chicago, and the Thirsty Whale, JUST TO SEE TUFF!
I left out the bit about the boot.
Well, I spent the better part of this drizzly Nashville morning both recovering from the too many Heinekens and not enough Bloody Marys I enjoyed at the studio yesterday afternoon/evening, and cleaning house on my Facebook account. Why? The answer to this(excuse me, I have to go throw some laundry in the dryer...yeah, it's 12:41PM, and I'm sitting here in a robe until my jeans are dry. THAT, my friends, is a life of leisure.)....OK, the answer to this is catching wind of one too many posts by folks crying about their invaded privacy(Uh, didn't YOU take that picture of yourself in the bathroom mirror..the one with your shirt off? Yeah, you're obviously not inviting people into your world.), and yet another conversation with peers about "so-and-so exhibit A" using their internet pulpit to skewer "so-and-so exhibit B" for making a necessary career move, that apparently also involved some form of perceived treason.
Whatever happened to just calling somebody up and hashing it out, or better yet, discussing it face to face....you know, like, in person? Facebook hasn't brought us closer together, it's simply made it easier to know what everyone else is up to without having to actually participate socially to keep up. It's turning us all into World Of Warcraft kids, unable to drag our flabby selves out into the light long enough to touch an actual human being. Instead, we sit around searching for clues and conjuring implied sleights from the most innocuous exchanges, fully convinced that we're being targeted in conversations that in no way involve us. Facebook, fostering latent paranoia since 2004. There's your tag line. Get over yourselves, people....shake a hand, bum a smoke, help an old lady across the street...anything, just stop worrying about what everybody else is doing right now.
On a somewhat less cynical note, I did have the distinct pleasure of catching a studio session for my buddy Joshua Ketchmark's new project. Joshua's originally from Pekin, IL, but moved to Los Angeles some 10 years ago to play rhythm guitar in my band at the time, Best Of Seven. One divorce and several cool jobs later, he's now kinda important at Schecter Guitars, and makes independent records on the side.
My band fORMER recently backed him on the first 4 tunes he & I co-wrote for his upcoming release, and this latest batch features the guys from a killer Nashville-based outfit called Bonepony, the ex-bassist of Sugarland, and Lynyrd Skynyrd's keyboardist. It never gets old watching a great song come together, especially when witnessing seasoned players, who have only been acquainted with the material for a matter of hours, pulling parts out of thin air that seem to have been expressly made for the track and delivered on some divine wavelength....truly inspiring.
Speaking of my band. Our tune "Blue Divide" will be featured on Fuel TV's "Punk Payback" episode 3 this week. Check it out. This has been an on again, off again affair with the network, but it appears we've made the cut this week, after a little bit of haggling on our behalf by the shows star AND producer, so catch us while you can.
NOTE: To anyone NOT on this stage.
No, just because I'm up here with a guitar, that does not mean I know every song ever written.
Furthermore, If I did, I would not use this gift to play "Cover Of A Rolling Stone", which IS; contrary to your misinformation, by Dr. Hook.
The guy ONstage
First off, sorry I haven't been updating this page as often as usual over the last few weeks. Between applying myself to learning my new studio setup, writing for a couple of projects, and the ever-evolving circumstances known as life, I have been neglecting my duties. I am here to set things right.
Tonight(11/16/11) at 8:30PM CST, our tune "Blue Divide" will debut in episode #3 of Fuel TV's "Punk Payback" series. Check your local listings and tune in, please. I'm not sure how many episodes(if any more) we'll be featured in, but I know tonight is one.
This Saturday, Henry, Patrick, & I will be performing another set of stripped-down fORMER and The Great Affairs tunes in Columbus,GA at SoHo Bar & Grille. Billy will be sitting this one out to attend to some personal business, but he'll be back behind the kit for our year-ending show at The Rutledge on Saturday, December 3rd.
Speaking of The Rutledge, Henry & I will be working off our turkey-guts next weekend on Black Friday with a last-minute set for Nashville Rock: Stripped's latest installment. I'm not sure yet just what our set will consist of, but I'm sure it will be titillating.
We also just signed some contracts that should help us see some interesting things happening overseas with the new record. I'll keep you posted as that develops.
My new studio is coming together nicely. I already have initial tracks together for a couple of new tunes "You Won't Get It Here" and "Something Better Than This", that hopefully will appear here on the site in preview form before too long. Please be patient with me, as tech work is not my forte. It WILL happen eventually.
Another thing that has been taking up some of my time lately is my blogging gig. You can check out what has thus far amounted to little more than a mini-autobiography and a book review at this link:
I'm adding one or two a week, so keep checking back. I wrote one today about a new t-shirt I got, so you never know what kind of nonsense I'll be rambling about.
By the way, Henry, Patrick & I are going to be doing a lot more of these stripped-down shows in the future, likely just under my name so we can mix up fORMER, The Great Affairs, Bombshell Crush, and Best Of Seven stuff. Keep your eyes peeled for some guy named Denny Smith playing near you, because it's probably really 3 guys.
In a totally unrelated note, Patrick fell off his chair and out the door at Rebar the other night, and I haven't stopped laughing since....just wanted to share.
See you all very soon,
Gavin Rossdale is a pretty dude, and must have lived; when not busy making babies with his fellow 90's icon wife, in some sort of hyperbaric chamber, because he doesn't appear to have aged much since his heyday some 15 years ago. I know this, because, for the second time in recent months, I have been in close proximity to Mr. Stefani. First, it was backstage before their set supporting Motley Crue at The Sunset Strip Music Festival, and then again this past Saturday afternoon at soundcheck for the Haunted Valley Block Party, where The Beauty School Dropouts would headline the INdoor stage, get this, AFTER Bush & Candlebox had closed down the OUTdoor one. Billed as an "after party", it was really a lot of "after", and very little "party", since we didn't actually take the stage until sometime around 1:30 AM....yeah, Sunday morning, if anyone's counting. Still, we delivered our best; albeit somewhat taxed, performance for so early on the sabbath.
The true saving grace of the evening would be the hospitality of none other than Mr. Tracy Lawrence, known for his 8 country #1s, and; apparently, for throwing one hell of a party. This one was a joint celebration of his wife's birthday and Halloween, and since Jimmy & his wife Lacy had an invite, the rest of the BSD posse were kindly allowed to tag along and pre-game before heading back down to 12th & Porter for our triumphant finale. I wish we'd had more time, but since I was able to knock out 3 beers, a couple shots, and some moonshine cherries(and possibly witness Josh giving Jeremy a lad dance), in the brief instant we were there, it's probably for the best, or our capacity crowd early the NEXT morning might've been witness to a compromised exposition of our talents.
I did get to meet our host, who was as down-to-earth as I could've hoped, in spite of the fact that his property could probably accommodate the amount of homes needed to qualify for township, and his guest house was as big as my actual domicile. I KNEW I should've gone the country route...Oh well, there's still time.
I built a new studio rig last week, with help from my friends Josh"Grohl" Baker & Tony"The Chief" Higbee. I had to completely reconfigure my studio room, and my wallet's significantly lighter, but I think this upgrade will expedite the demo process for the next fORMER release, and might even allow Shane Tassart & I to put together a new Best Of Seven record, as schedules permit. This new setup will come in handy for writing projects, and may even help me do proper, full-blown versions of a few songs that have never fit the "band" format over the years.( Yes, Tommy Krantz, I'm talking about THAT one too.) If nothing else, I should be posting my progress with a few of these ideas on the "audio" page, so stay tuned.
Speaking of new tunes, we have about 20 or so on the board for consideration, and once we get through this weekend's show in Bowling Green, and the last of the new additions to the live set, we can start cracking down on ourselves to weed through the contenders. I'm not sure the cream we'll need for LP #3 has risen to the top, but we've got time, so no worries there. We might even hold the cards a little closer to the vest this time, and refrain from playing any of the new stuff live until after it's been released, which is something we've never been disciplined or brave enough to do. This is my plan, at least, but we'll see how democracy...and our general lack of patience effect this strategy over time.
As for this Saturday's show, I say again, this is our buddy Miki's birthday, and our first show at Tidball's in over 2 years, so we intend to throw down. We've tweaked the set, as per Miki's request, and we're anxious to see how long the birthday boy can stay on his feet. The spectacle may not be on the stage. You have been warned.
Our next stop will be Soho in Columbus, Georgia, another little town we've been missing for a minute. We'll be there Saturday, November 19th with Six To The Wheels, out of Atlanta. This place is always a good time, and inevitably makes for a rough morning. Folks in the area, we've missed you, don't miss us. Vickie, I will politely decline all complimentary shots in advance. Thank you.
After that, it's one last show for fORMER in 2011(unless something pops up), at The Rutledge on December 3rd, so mark your calendars, Nashville, 'cause we're gone until next year after this one, and we really wanna give 2011 a proper sendoff as she's been especially good to us.
p.s. I got the Butch Walker auto-biography "Drinking With Strangers" in the mail the other day....not bad...definitely worth dropping a few bucks on.
p.s.s. The Belle Brigade might be my album of the year.....sorry, Gillian & Dave....I said "might".
Sugar-free oatmeal, the breakfast of champions....and me.
Real quick, folks, here's what's been going on and what's about to go down.
We had a couple of weeks off, due to Patrick & I's travels, but we convened for a couple of hours last night to start work on an unusually lengthy set for our return to Tidball's on Saturday, November 5th. We haven't played this joint in Bowling Green, KY in over 2 years, AND we're helping our buddy Miki celebrate his birthday that evening, so we spent part of last night's rehearsal dusting off Day 22, as promised. I know a lot of folks have never heard this song before, but it was on our 2nd EP "Deaf Proof" that came out in 2007, and is now long out-of-print. Our lineup at that time featured just Henry & I, along with Ian Wolczyk on guitar & Corey Boise on drums. Billy was out on "sick leave" after having his appendix rupture, and our original guitarist Jeff "JD" Garner was on the road with Lennon, opening for Motley Crue. Still, at some point, we went into the studio for a weekend to cut 5 songs, "Never Come Down" & "Burnout"(both of which were later RE-recorded for our first LP), along with "Day 22", "Damned", & "Underwhelmed"(which we've played off-and-on ever since). Day 22 disappeared with that lineup, and hasn't reared it's head since, until now, at the behest of Mr. Miki Ernst. Again, seeing as it IS his birthday, and he IS our SELF-proclaimed #1 fan, it seems like the least we could do to honor his wish. I'll add "Day 22" to the audio page when I wrap this up, for anyone who might wanna check it out.
In The Great Affairs news, the episode of Not Just Country that we filmed last year finally aired this past Friday & Sunday on Comcast 49. I haven't had the chance to watch the performances yet, but I hope they're good, because I'm going to add the just-posted YouTube link to our main page, as well as RIGHT HERE:
....for those of you who might be interested. I think our segment starts around the 11-minute mark. Thanks to Rick & co. for having us on this season!
On to the bad news, the final cut has been made on Punk Payback, and despite the series' star himself going to bat for us with the network, the use of the original opening, featuring our tune "Blue Divide" has been cut. Yep, we've been replaced. Hopefully the producer will give me the green light to post the first cut, once the series premieres next week, so you all can see what might have been. Regardless of the outcome, I'd like to thank everyone that took up for us in the dispute....maybe next time.
I got a haircut...Thanks, Sam....
Here's a shot from Jo & I's excursion to the honky-tonks on Saturday, courtesy of our amigo Juan Massaglia. While I'm thanking folks indiscriminately in this blog, I'd like to thank JVD for his stellar rendition of Nelson's "Love & Affection" later that evening at the karaoke bar across the way. Printer's Alley will never be the same.
OK, back to actual news..Wednesday, more fORMER rehearsal.....Friday, a lone rehearsal with The Beauty School Dropouts('cause that's how we roll) for Saturday's show at 12th & Porter w/ Bush, Candlebox, Five Knives, and a slew of others...BSD headlines the indoor stage, tickets are $25, costumes are encouraged. Nick will be coming out of retirement for this show, just months after allowing America to thank him for all he has done for their music scene ...huge dollars must have been involved.
My first official blog for The Times Newspapers is up HERE:
Don's forget, NEW SHIRTS.....order now. Ladies Ts are moving faster than anticipated, so get 'em while you can, HERE:
Finally, 2 Dobler tunes are rough-demoed, and a 3rd is getting polished up Wednesday afternoon with my partner MC McCants. I might actually build a new project studio to cut this record in...shopping around and pricing that this week...pretty cool stuff so far, very 80s-centric.
OK, so much for keeping things brief. I've gotta get to the gym my ride needs an oil change, so it's time to sign off. See you all this weekend at the Haunted Valley shindig.....and I definitely expect the hardier of you to make the trek to Bowling Green for next weekend's throwdown. I just hope Miki is conscious to enjoy his request....history dictates such an outcome being unlikely.
Well, folks, it would appear that whether or not you're aware of it, those of you employing the services of a dehumidifier in your home or business should periodically change the filter, lest you may avoid purchasing a brand new one far sooner than you would have had you properly maintained the previous unit. This is a lesson I'm learning today. You see, as with most household devices, I opted to simply plug it in, certain that its purpose was so self-explanatory, that a brief perusal of the accompanying manual was unnecessary. Turns out, there is a filter, cleverly tucked away out of view, that, once clogged with dust generated by the intake fan, can lead to the untimely demise of motor function.
So, with that helpful hint out of the way, allow me to proceed to what passes for news 'round these parts.
Patrick & I were in Illinois all week, just long enough to make a couple of appearances and visit our families. We joined Don Mabus & John Eason for a handful of tunes at their "open stage" last Thursday at TNT's in East Peoria. "Baby Loves You", "What's So Funny('bout peace, love, & understanding)", "P Control" and out own "Lies"were hacked through, to varying degrees of proficiency.
The following night, we did an hour's worth of stuff at The Red Barn, including a bunch of The Great Affairs' tunes that we hadn't played through in quite some time. I tested a new tune called "Make You Smile" that I wrote recently with my buddy Adam for a new project. We also closed the night with a loose...and I'm being kind in that self-assessment...jam of some Bon Jovi & Billy Idol. The rest of the evening is either a blur, or something I'd like to imagine as one, so as to feel better about myself.
I almost forgot to mention that Patrick & I stopped off at Fubar in St. Louis to catch Michael Monroe, and witnessed a woefully under-attended but nevertheless world-class rock n' roll show of the finest order. Michael's band absolutely killed selections from throughout his career, including stuff from Hanoi Rocks and the much-overlooked Demolition 23 record, as well as tracks from the new album that stood solid alongside the classics. His energy at age 49 was nothing short of unbelievable, and his band; including Hanoi bassist Sami Yaffa and Backyard Babies' guitarist Dregen, were all stars in their own right. This was one of those rare shows that totally exceeded my already high expectations, and made the detour absolutely worthwhile.
Our after-show trek to The Atomic Cowboy however earned us a late start to our final destination, but nothing a couple of energy drinks and some double cheeseburgers couldn't fix. Still, the absence of promised "burlesque" dancers was disappointing, to say the least. The beer was cold though, so they had that going for them.
Back in Nashville, our new t-shirts arrived nearly a week ahead of schedule, and they're available in the store section of the website. We've already processed and shipped a handful of orders, so get yours now, the supply is somewhat limited, particularly the girls sizes & XXL.
The CD is selling steadily, and reviews & requests for review copies are still streaming in, from all around the globe. We're on the air in Europe now, as well as getting some midday airtime on Nashville's very own Lightning 100.
Some other film & TV placements look to be on the horizon, and speaking of which, the Not Just Country episode featuring The Great Affairs will air this Friday & Sunday on Comcast channel 49. Check local listings for air times.
Next up for me is the Haunted Valley shindig with The Beauty School Dropouts next Saturday, with Bush & Candlebox, then it's back to fORMER for our return to Tidball's in Bowling Green. We've also got a November 19th date at SoHo in Columbus, GA...our first time there in 2 or 3 years. We should have a few more shows before the end of the year, and then time off for the holidays, and some woodshedding to work on new material....at least that's MY plan. In the fORMER world, you just never know. Either way, songs are getting written that are gonna need sung, so one way or another, they're on the way.
We have an estimated 5PM departure time this afternoon; Mr. Patrick J. Miller & I, as we head north to the turf of our youth, Central Illinois. We'll be detouring just enough to catch former Hanoi Rocks frontman Michael Monroe's solo set at Fubar in St. Louis en route. With things getting a little busier for fORMER, there's a brief window of opportunity to catch up with family & business back home for a few days, before turning around and heading right back on Saturday. Unfortunately, this trek means missing both the Belle Brigade and The Civil Wars shows in Nashville this week, but The Midwest beckons, and we must heed the call.
Once in Pekin, I'll have a few days to catch up at my shop, and also knock out a set of acoustic numbers at The Red Barn in Peoria on Friday...possibly joined by Mr. Miller, if he's not too busy. I've fielded a few requests, and I'll try to honor them as best I can in my allotted time frame. Not being a player of the virtuosic variety, please don't spring anything too demanding on me last-minute, as that will only result in inevitable discomfort for everyone involved, trust me. I AM going to do a few tunes that have never been played live, and maybe try out some fORMER stuff that might make the next record, if we can outrun the coming rapture, of course. So, pencil it in, THIS Friday, the 14th, Red Barn...be there. I have no idea when I'll make it back up for another one of these, and I'd really like to catch up with a few folks I haven't seen in a while.
Waiting for us in Nashville will be a mess of songs to go over for our first Kentucky show in over 2 years. That's right, we're returning to Bowling Green to headline the great Tidball's on Saturday, November 5th. The Plastic Friends will open the show around 10, and by the time we take the stage, sometime just before midnight, we will have roughly 25 songs at our disposal, including the return of the long lost Day 22, revived via birthday request for one Miki Ernst. This song has NEVER been played by this lineup, and hasn't been played live by ANY fORMER lineup since 2007, so if Miki isn't feeling the love, he's got no heart. The reasons for this songs absence in the set has never been quite clear, with blame commonly placed on a variety of individuals named Billy, but I have to admit, I've kinda missed playing the riffs, and I'm actually pretty excited to bring this one back into the fold.
Before we can get lucky in Kentucky however, I have to shift gears, and briefly resume my role as an auxiliary Beauty School Dropout to support Bush at the Haunted Valley Block Party. We're headlining the indoor stage, right before Bush goes on outside, and tickets go on sale tomorrow. There are a bunch of bands on the bill...Five Knives, Strike First, Scarletta, and more...and it kicks off early, like around 7PM. Of course, costumes will be the order of business, so look for me as Gwen Stefani. Hopefully P90X will have my abs in shape in time for the midriff shirt I picked out.
In other news of late, I've been working with my buddy Adam McCants on a writing/recording project that will lean heavily on the 80s-pop that we both admire, and we're almost 2 songs into that already...in fact, I may test one of those at this weekends acoustic show. We're not really sure what we're going to do with this stuff yet, but the experiment has proven successful thus far, so forward it is.
I'm also waiting on Joshua Ketchmark to decide when he wants to start round 2 of recording for his latest record. There are 5 rather elaborate demos simmering, in need of the full studio treatment from the qualified professionals that brought round 1 to life. This could possibly happen by the end of the year.....if not, maybe we'll start a new fORMER record. There is no shortage of material ready to go, but these boxes full of "The Kids Deserve Cable" CDs seem to indicate a pressing need to get out and play/sell/rinse/repeat....at least for a few months, THEN get down to business on LP #3. That is, unless everybody wants to buy 2 or 3 extra, then we'll skip ahead.....let me know.
The Bombshell Crush master sounds amazing, and some of the artwork is done. We have yet to settle on a title or image for the cover. Hopefully one will come along and inspire the other, so we can get this thing wrapped up, and one step closer to release.
Well, I think that's about it for now...oh yeah, just lined up a December 3rd show in town, and no, it's not opening for Framing Hanley, although they will be playing a few blocks away that night...so mark your calendars. This may be it for us in Nashville until 2012, and if that is indeed the case, we'll have to make it count.
Plenty to talk about later....I'll get back to you in a week or so,
Guys, I honestly don't know how many thank-yous would be sufficient to express the level of gratitude we felt after our set Saturday night, so I'll just say this...we felt like a million bucks on that stage, and I, for one, was blown away from start to finish. Seeing and hearing so many people singing along to songs from a record that has only been available for a few short weeks was nothing short of awesome, and I honestly had trouble concentrating on the job at hand more than once, simply because I was taken aback by the response. A show like that validates every minute of every hour of hard work we invested in this album, and in this band. In the last few months, since we decided to dust off fORMER, and get back to business, we've had some of the best times together, and so much of that has to do with you guys coming out and letting us know that we're hitting the right nerves somewhere, so again, thank you.
From the sound & lights, to the promoter, to the club & staff, and especially the bands we were lucky to have sharing the bill with us(Hello Kelly, Billy Carri, The Monroes), things couldn't have been any more painless. Our new merch girl performed well under fire, and made sure our wares were properly distributed, even when her ankle gave out on her and left her immobile. We had folks drive in from Ohio, Kentucky, and Mississippi, so I guess if we can't come to them, they'll come to us...a whole new spin on the touring concept. The fans get a bus, while we stay home waiting for them to come to OUR town....sounds good. Nah, we said we'd get back out there, and we will...however limited it may be, we'll be putting some miles in eventually. Thanks to Michele "with one L" for bringing EIGHT copies of The Great Affairs "Happy Ender" record for Patrick & I(and Matt, who eventually showed up, post-set/post-Wilco at The Ryman) to autograph. We met a bunch of great people, and sent several copies of "The Kids Deserve Cable" off to new homes.
I do want to mention the one unfortunate turn of events, and offer an apology to our new friend, and Billy Carri crew member, Pontoon Mikey. Mikey got jumped in the parking lot just as we were preparing to load out, by some lowlife who grabbed what he could from Billy Carri's van, before disappearing back into whatever hole he emerged from. Nashville PD weren't entirely interested in doing much about it, but then again, there really wasn't much that could be done. So, we saddled up, our buddy Scott made a beer run of semi-epic proportions, and we gathered around a fire pit in Mr. Baker's backyard with about 20 people....well, 23 people, after I ran by The Preston Hotel and grabbed JD, Hector, & Mikey Mayhem, our Kentucky brothers, who had already consumed more than their share of fermented goodness. I'm sure Billy's neighbors were thrilled with our racket, as it stretched to the 4AM mark, and the din was elevated a smidge when JD threw Hector's glasses into the fire, to have them retrieved, smoldering and twisted, only to be chucked right back in and ultimately lost to the flames. By then, I'm not even sure Hector knew they were his, or that they were no longer on his face. I laughed.....I'm still laughing, truth be told....so I hope they weren't prescription.
This week, we start working up a few more tunes, and get cracking on booking a few shows to fill the remainder of our 2011 calendar. I'm off to Illinois next Monday, with a pit stop in St. Louis on the 10th to catch Michael Monroe. That Friday, the 14th, I'm gonna be doing an acoustic set at The Red Barn in Peoria, before hitting the road back to Nashville for Tomageddon...a story that can't be told, due to a nondisclosure agreement signed by all party-goers. Speaking of acoustic shows, Patrick, Henry, & I are looking at doing a few shows featuring both fORMER & The Great Affairs' material, performed in a slightly altered fashion, with just acoustic guitars, percussion, and vocals. We might do a few semi-local gigs just to get out there and keep our chops up, so be looking for updates on that.
For now, we're just gonna ride the wave of good vibes this record seems to have generated for us, and see what comes our way.....and yeah, get these new t-shirts out. That is my next order of business, I swear.
I did a little rearranging of my studio last night, giving my lady friend Jakki a more reverential position amongst the clutter. I think this will inspire me to greater heights of creativity, having her nether regions hovering just above eye level. Thank you, Ms. Degg.
In other news, the big show is tomorrow night at 12th & Porter. The set is written & vaguely rehearsed, the guitars are strung, batteries changed, and invites circulated. First band hits at 8, so don't dawdle. 5 bones gets you the whole spectacle... but happy endings must be negotiated with Henry.
Thanks to everyone who has already picked up a copy of "The Kids Deserve Cable". We do sincerely appreciate it. I know, in this age of waning enthusiasm for physical product; specifically CDs, that shelling out 10 bucks for a little piece of polycarbonate plastic wrapped in cardboard may seem an outmoded concept to some, but to us, having the actual album in our possession and out there for purchase is an essential part of the process....even if we have to do it all ourselves to get it released.
There is something to the actual "drop" that makes the whole struggle seem worthwhile, and more so when we get to see the record in YOUR hands. So again, thank you, and thanks to everyone who has supported us, said kind things about our music(Yeah, you too, Tommy K....our biggest cheerleader as of late), taken and sent us pictures from the shows, and especially the front & center folks, who have consistently drowned out my monitors on the choruses of many songs over the years...We love you guys.
Rest assured, as long as you folks will keep buying enough of these things, we'll keep making them.
P.S. As soon as I can get the yahoos at our screen-printing place to return an email, we'll have those new t-shirts happening.
34 "confirmed" attendees, and just 3 days away. Now do you see what I mean. Granted, there are plenty of folks that don't pay any attention to FaceBook invites, who are well aware of this show going down on Saturday, but of the nearly 600 invites sent out for this event, 34 have RSVP'd.
Of course, Saturday afternoon will be spent fielding apologetic texts from folks who had previously committed to being there, but suddenly had something come up, be it an illness or work obligation, etc.
For the record, unless you're integral to the show going on, just don't show up. A message letting us know you WON'T be there is not necessary. It only distracts us from the job at hand, and there are plenty of other, constructive things we can be doing besides reading the litany of excuses you have probably used before but forgotten...and they were only somewhat believable the first time around.
Bitter? Do I sound bitter? Maybe I am...a little. For the record, those of you unable to make it due to legitimate obstacles that are impossible to overcome, we DO understand. This rant is targeted at repeat offenders. The ones that manage to make appearances at a handful of other shows throughout the month, seemingly unimpeded by any such logistical entanglements. Yeah, if you think I'm talkin' to you, I probably am.
You know, it's funny, I used to really give a shit about offending people and burning bridges, but somewhere along the way, right about the time I realized how little respect you get for being the good guy in this town(or any other, for that matter), I just stopped. So, from here on out, I'm gonna call it like I see it, for better or worse. If you're a promoter that owes us money, for instance....or a band that act like a bunch of jackasses over petty nonsense...or you've been on a high horse you should've stopped beating years ago....I'm just gonna make that observation. Besides, PC is no fun, and what good is having a forum to speak your mind if you censor yourself.
I feel better already, so I'm gonna drag my rickety ass to the gym, and try to not be that out of shape skinny guy. See all 34 of you Saturday. Don't worry, I'll be smiling, 'cause to be honest, none of this really bothers me that much these days, but I still like to get things off my chest before they do.
I hate to start a conversation with bad news, so let's kick off with the positive revelation that "Say It Isn't So" WILL be featured in the forthcoming 3D horror flick "Blood Of Ohma". The film was shot in and around Erie, PA earlier in the year, and should be released in late 2011/early 2012, from what I can gather.
fORMER WILL be tearing the roof off of 12th & Porter in Nashville this Saturday, October 1st, celebrating our new record's release with a little hoedown featuring our amigos Hello Kelly, followed by Cincy cohorts Billy Carri, yours truly, and a closing set from The Monroes, who have a badass video up on YouTube that has me intrigued, to say the least. This should be one hell of a show, and I hope you'll come down and hang with us this weekend. We're going to play about half of the new record, along with a handful of stuff from LP #1, and the set is designed to offer as little relief from volume as possible, so double-fist your drinks, and hit the john before stage-time, or your eyes and ears might miss something. Besides, the post-set stampede will be hilarious in that joint.
I WILL be headed to Illinois shortly, to catch up with some business at the shop, and; while I'm there, perform a set of acoustic tunes at Red Barn in Peoria on Friday, October 14th. Brent Stortzum & Jeremy David Baker(no relation to Josh or Billy) will be on the bill as well. I'm gonna mix it up...maybe do a few fORMER & The Great Affairs numbers, and whatever else I get a bug up my ass to warble through....you tell me. Other than the permanently benched "P Control", I'm open to suggestion.
The Great Affairs WILL be featured in an upcoming episode of Not Just Country, airing Friday, October 21st at 10:30PM on Comcast Channel 49, and again Sunday, October 23rd at 12:30AM. We filmed this episode well over a year ago, and if my memory serves me correctly, the post-show interviews shot would be best left on the cutting room floor. That said, if they weren't, you're in for a treat.
Bombshell Crush WILL be releasing a CD in December or January(tentatively) on Demon Doll Records. Michael Saint-Leon has remastered the original 10-song Bombshell Crush album, with the final seven tracks recorded in 2004 for our unreleased followup added as a bonus. Broken Down, Never Be Another, Lies, Time After Time, You Said, Can't Forget, & The Urge have all been touched up and will be released with new artwork and liner notes. The plan is to do a show on or around the release to celebrate. As soon as we have a definite drop date, we'll let you know.
Now, on to the potential bummer of the week, fORMER's "Blue Divide" may or may NOT end up used as the theme to the new Bas Ruttan show on Fuel, "Punk Payback". The day after my co-writer Adam & signed the licensing agreement, the network issued a call for some new cuts to be made before the show debuts, and as a result, our song may be the unfortunate victim of Hollywood politics. The producer wants it and loves the existing edit(which I've seen, and it IS pretty killer), the suit calling the shots has his own ideas. Where this one lands is anyone's guess, and at the moment it's a pissing match between these two contestants. How this effects my actual guest appearance in episode 7 is another big question mark. Whatever the outcome, it was great experience, and Bas & the crew couldn't have been any cooler. Fingers crossed.
WARNING: I'm gonna get up on my soapbox a bit now, so read on at your own peril.
I mulled this all over while doing a few miles on the greenway today, and I've gotta admit, turns like these are frustrating, particularly in our scenario. I mean, let's face it, fORMER is only as active as it's members' work schedules and personal lives will allow, which isn't very, so garnering exposure via these types of outlets is key to getting traction for our name, and hopefully seeing that traction generate sales. Without being able to do road work, our options that don't involve great expenditure are few and generally ineffective. The "scene" here in Nashville, for us at least, is not terribly inhospitable, but also not the most welcoming to a band that isn't really modern rock or metal, but also not truly pop or country, and definitely not "young", or indie & hip. This presents a glass ceiling that hovers seemingly inches from the floor.
All the time I hear people complain about not getting paid, or not getting paid "enough", and I look around while their jaws are flapping and see a club with 50-75 people(with a capacity of 300) in it on a Saturday night, a soundguy & promoter that will most likely(see definitely) get paid before anyone sees a dime of the ($5 X however many in attendance weren't on the guest list) cover collected, and I think "What is enough?". Then, I recognize, for the umpteenth time, that WE'RE one of those bands, hopefully minus the complaining. Said realization sets the wheels to spinning, searching for the causes of our consistent underperformance in this area, and inevitably depression takes over. Luckily, I gave up on the idea of cashing in on my vast talents years ago, so the feeling is short-lived, and I'm over it by the time the bartender has my next round up.
Still, the law of diminishing returns does prompt the occasional conversation within the band, who would like to see that tide turn in our favor, and this begs the question "What do we do about it?" The give & take of the I-come-to-see-your-band so YOU-come-to-see-my-band dynamic is ridiculous and as dishonest a gauge for success as any one of the hundreds of bullshit competitions SonicBids or ReverbNation roll out daily. You know the ones, where you can vote as many times as you want...don't stop now....we're so close....this one's gonna make us famous, and we'll get a HUGE record deal. Yeah, those ones. The idea is to create fans, not milk your friends.
So, we put everything we had into making a great record, and I think we succeeded. Now, we go out on stage, just the four of us, a drum kit, some amps, & some guitars....no samples, no fireworks, or silly costumes....and sweat our asses off until they tell us to stop, like it's been done for years. I guess I just wish that was enough to get some of our more casual fans/acquaintances/associates off their asses out to a show...and don't loiter in the back like you're too cool to be seen enjoying yourself(or being miserable...I can't guarantee you'll have fun, there might be something wrong with you), get down front, rip a scream, it's good for you....spill a beer or two, get in a fight, live a little....maybe you'll get laid, who knows. One thing is for sure, we're gonna kick some ass whether you're there or not, but damn if it isn't more fun when the room is packed full of people who wanna get down some.
Besides, we wanna keep making records, and in order to do that, we need to feel like there are a few folks waiting on the next one. Hey, I'm not looking to raise an army, but some loyal volunteers would be appreciated...and we'll take it from there. It's only rock n' roll, people, but they've been trying to kill it for years.....don't land on the wrong side of the fight.
12th & Porter....Saturday night. 9. It's a start.
p.s. I added some new demo tracks to the audio page. More to come, as I keep unearthing stuff I don't even remember recording.
Well, 120 minutes, 23 songs, a collective 12 lbs. lost, and one blown prototype amplifier later, we appear to have survived the Bridgestone Plaza Party relatively unscathed. I mean, sure, my one-of-a-kind Russian-designed Class A head, for which I have no specs to give an amp tech for repairs, shot sparks and a small plume of smoke out before we ever played a note, and the vast majority of folks filing past us had and still have no clue who we were or what we were doing in front of the arena before the Journey show, and yeah, we took some unintentional liberties with the melodies & chord progressions of a few of our own songs, BUT we sold some CDs, put some coin in our pockets, and nobody got hurt. I'm claiming this one a victory.
Truth is, we were called upon at the last minute by our buddy David Hart at Iconic Rockwear, to pull together a 2 hr. set, to entertain(/entice-to-purchase beer & concessions) whoever may be milling about OUTside prior to Night Ranger taking the stage INside at approximately 7PM. No problem...except for the fact that we've pretty much been conditioned; by years of playing club shows, to achieve optimum performance in the 45 minutes-or-less setting. Since we were determined not to repeat a single song, we had to dig back into our catalog, reviving numbers we had long since retired from active duty. With only a single run through on most of them, we surprised ourselves at how easily muscle memory can take over, and the majority of the stuff came together quickly. Granted, we didn't have the time to put any real spit n' polish on their finer nuances, but the rough edges were inoffensive enough to pass muster. In fact, I didn't realize how much I've missed playing a handful of these songs, so hopefully we'll keep a few of them on deck for future emergencies, or just because we feel like running them up the flagpole every now & then.
We're just a few weeks away from our next show at 12th & Porter, on Saturday, October 1st. The lineup has changed a smidge, with The Lasting forced to drop off the bill, being replaced by The Monroes, who will now be closing the show, taking the stage right after our set. Hello Kelly will open, followed by our Cincinnati brothers Billy Carri. This will be our "official" record release celebration, so if you don't have it yet, and you're afraid to have your credit card information out there on the internet, being abused by one of the retailers who are handling our inventory, bring 10 extra bucks, earmarked for the purchase of "The Kids Deserve Cable" , so that years from now you can regale your grandchildren with tales of how your life was forever changed when Patrick Miller of fORMER flashed you that moneymaker smile, as he snatched that coin from your palm and handed you what may be the best album you'll ever own.
Speaking of which, we've managed to rack up a handful of really good reviews, both from friends & fans, as well as bloggers and online publications, and several have complimented the actual sonic quality of the production on this record. I'd just like to give a quick tip of the hat to our engineer/co-producer Michael Saint-Leon at The Switchyard. Michael knew going into this record; having done so much work with us in the past, that the last thing we wanted was the standard "modern rock" sound, the one that 99.9% of the bands making records; independent or otherwise, in this "genre" tend to favor. We didn't want uber-compressed guitars with ridiculous amounts of midrange-less gain, or THAT snare sound...you know the one, that may as well be a drum machine. We wanted slightly ragged guitars, and more than a little humanity in the performances. No, we didn't use a click track on every song, and anyone paying some attention, that can count to 4, might be able to pick up on it in spots. We're cool with it. That's the way most of our favorite records were made. Don't get me wrong, I'm not down on folks that do it the other way, and we definitely used technology to our advantage more than once while putting this album together, but we didn't wanna join the herd of acts that sound more like science projects than rock n' roll bands, and are happily uncool in this regard. I'd like to thank Michael once again for helping us get OUR sound, and I'd recommend the services of Mr. Saint-Leon & The Switchyard to anyone not looking to paint by numbers.
OK, down from my soapbox, I've gotta go pack a bag, 'cause I'm headed home to Central Illinois and the annual Morton Pumpkin Festival tomorrow. Maybe I'll see some of you folks in the beer tent, or in line for whatever other pumpkin-flavored eats intrigue my taste buds.
One last thing. I watched the movie Get Low with Robert Duvall & Bill Murray the other night. Amazing! If you haven't seen it, change that. Sublime performances from those two and Sissy Spacek. Not a popcorn movie, and unsuitable to be watched with anyone chatty, but seriously one of the best films I've seen in a long time. Dig it up.
As promised, a post-Labor Day bit of bloggage...although, in the interest of full disclosure, I am actually typing this ON Labor Day, with the windows open in the house for the first time in months. We've apparently been granted a reprieve from the heat, at least for the remainder of this holiday, which I'll gladly accept at current face value.
OK, while you wouldn't know it unless I volunteered the information, I walked away from my keyboard for nearly 15 minutes, to run to the corner store in the interest of procuring a caffeinated beverage. I accomplished my mission, and I will now proceed; hopefully sans interruption, with my recap of the past week's events.
There has been so much going on that it's going to be hard to cover it all without losing my train of thought, but I think I'll start with the most left-field development, regarding the impending release of a new Bombshell Crush CD. For those of you not in-the-know, Bombshell Crush is the band I joined when I left Best Of Seven, and moved to Nashville in 2003. We had a great 2-year run, that unfortunately spiraled out of our control, due to personal issues and the resulting lineup changes they spawned. By the end, we were operating at such a diminished capacity that our singer's sudden departure was, in effect, a mercy killing.
Our "final show" was played with only one original member on stage, ME, along with my former Best Of Seven bandmate Shane Tassart filling in(and doing a damn fine job, I might add) on vocals, along with the other 3/5ths of BC's short-lived MKII lineup: JD Garner, Henry Go, & Phil Kring. This was not the way any of us wanted to "go out".
Still, out we went, and fORMER was born, first with Henry, Tony Higbee(on guitar) and Daniel Braswell on drums for a Nashville Rock: Stripped show, then Henry, Patrick & I along with my buddy Jason Herndon for a couple of shows, and eventually with Billy & JD Garner in the fold for our first EP and a long stretch of trying to make the name stick. We went through a few more growing pains, rotating guitar players in and out and back again, with even Billy & Patrick being "formerly of fORMER", before settling in with the current(+Lee Coram) in 2008, and we've managed to not kill each other since, instead opting for the occasional full-band hiatus to keep us friendly.
Ultimately though, we knew there was a contingent of folks anxiously awaiting a Bombshell Crush reunion, and in 2010, through a strange series of events that even I can't recall in much detail, it was arranged. The rehearsals went off without a hitch, water passed under the bridge with surprising ease, and we delivered a show every bit as good as we ever had, if I do say so myself. Personally, I figured that to be the end of it, but as usual, something came along, a year and a half down the line that had us up there again, this time for a quick, show-closing set at the Jessi Baker benefit. In my attempts to assimilate with the crowd during a ridiculously drawn-out midsection of the evening, I drank enough to ensure that I would be the last one to reveal any details of our supposed performance. In other words, it's still a haze to me, but fun seemed to be had by all, and no threats of any kind were leveled at me, so I'm pretty confident we were either competent enough to deliver, or so unintentionally hilarious that we entertained for all the wrong reasons. I'm cool with either option, although I would prefer door number one.
Talk of doing another show was immediately bandied about, but with work on the new fORMER record nearing completion & eventual release, and Tony's band Caprice about to bid adieu to the masses, it seemed like the wrong time to take on the BC ghost. In spite of this, I contacted Johnny at Demon Doll Records, who had handled releases for some friends of ours, and inquired about his company re-releasing the first Bombshell Crush self-titled full-length, with 6 or 7 additional, unreleased tracks from the Broken Down EP(along with a possible "lost" track that we never completed), as a single, remastered CD. He bit, and contracts were signed, with an eye toward a late 2011/early 2012 release. We're still mulling over title ideas, and getting artwork together, as well as waiting to see if the tracks from the "lost" tune "The Urge" can be recovered and converted to ProTools, so Michael, Tony, & I can add vocals and whatever other embellishments may yet be needed. Whatever the outcome of such sonic archaeology, this stuff will finally see the light of day in a few months, and we'll most likely do a show around that time to promote it, if we can get our schedules to jive. Everyone seems game for it, so I'd say it's a safe bet it'll happen.
In other release news, "The Kids Deserve Cable" from fORMER has hits the streets. We received them just in time for our show at Mercy Lounge this past Wednesday, and we moved some pretty healthy numbers at The Warehouse(Thanks, Clarksville!) on Friday, during night one of Souzapalooza. Now, speaking of Friday, I would like to address one nagging issue. This bill was originally set to include another act that our bassist Henry also playED for. There were some reservations on said act's part about Henry performing with 2 bands in one night. Why? I'm not exactly sure, as we would have had to deal with the same scenario, and none of us were concerned. Whatever the case may have been, Henry was made aware of their displeasure, in no uncertain terms, and was inspired to tender his resignation as a member of their band....but not before making it clear that he would be willing to finish out any and all commitments on the book, which would be the PROFESSIONAL way to handle such a situation. Unfortunately, that professionalism was not reciprocated, and they cancelled their appearance, citing their Henry's resignation as the reason they COULD NOT play. This excuse was again floated via email, to a production company filming a documentary about the festival, calling Henry out as "unprofessional". Now, I've been playing music for a long time, and in my experience, airing the kind of dirty laundry I just did is completely uncool, but I thought it might serve to illustrate a little more fairly just what Henry's side of things was, since he was pretty much thrown under the bus by his ex-"bandmates" for no good reason, other than what appears to be some weird from of possessive, childish jealousy, over a guy playing occasionally with a group he's been a part of for over 7 years. These are my 2 cents, if you need a quarter, call Hank's old bosses.
Back to the CD, the reviews we've received so far have been great, and our online sales are kicking ass. Digital availability is right around the corner, so stay tuned for status updates on that. We're already well ahead of the game for our next release, and I've been writing and demoing a few things this week to keep on the shelve while we work this record for a few months. Like I said in a previous blog, we're even pulling a few things from The Great Affairs catalog and cranking them up a notch or two, so we can make sure every set is unique. It looks like we're headlining our next local show, on October 1st at 12th & Porter, so we may play long that night, and throw some curve balls, if everyone seems to be feeling it. Get your requests in now, and we'll see what we can do about dusting off an oddity or two....or 6.
Between now and then, I might start my new job as an "official" blogger for Times Newspapers, in Illinois, and I'll let everyone know where and when my musings will appear. My column will focus on music, and life in music, so apparently I won't have to apply myself too hard to drum up content. This is a cool opportunity, having barely graduated from high school, and I'm really looking forward to this "independent journalist" gig....plus, my Mom is proud, so that's always nice.
Speaking of Illinois, The Morton Pumpkin Festival is on my radar, and I'm headed home to partake in pumpkin delicacies for a few days next week. You can most likely find me in the beer tent. I'll be the guy trying to keep his brother from getting thrown out.
We're coming back to Kentucky in November, Bowling Green, to be specific, and we're looking into Cincinnati dates, but we've got plenty of open slots, so bands & promoters hit us up, 'cause we've got swag to move, so we can buy more swag to move, and so on......where do we need to play? You tell us, and we'll try to get there.
Alright, I've gotta run, and try to make the most out of this overcast finale to our 3-day weekend.
Be good to yourselves,
Well, it looks like I survived another trip to L.A., perhaps aided by a self-limited alcohol intake and a better approach to my daily diet. I made it into LAX Thursday afternoon, met my ride curbside and, after ditching my bags, made the rounds of several of Hollywood's finer drinking establishments, wrapping up at Jumbo's Clown Room. Look it up...it's rich in history. Oh yeah, I almost forgot the Danzig stories...but that's for another time.
Friday, after wandering down to The ArcLight to see Captain America, and a ritual pilgrimage to Amoeba Records(picked up the new Ponderosa disc. Excellent.), Joshua and I started on the next five tunes for his record that evening, and worked through much of Saturday, skipping most of the Sunset Strip Music Festival. Saturday night however, after dinner and some tasty Watermelon Wheat Beer at Blue Palms, we cabbed it down to catch Bush and Motley Crue closing it out. Several thousand people, including a number of celebrities, populated the Strip's key bit of real estate, and with the exception of a handful of folks with obvious anti-social tendencies, everyone played nice...that is until two hydraulic cannons, each loaded with 50 gallons of prop blood, rained down on a mostly-unsuspecting audience during Motley's finale. Then, things got kinda hairy for a bit, as the faux-blood-soaked mob made their exit, some obviously not entirely pleased with the current state of their appearance and several trying frantically to get the goop off of the cell phones they'd been holding aloft to film the show instead of just watching it with their own two eyes. I mean, shit, why experience the moment when you can just watch a scale version of it later on a tiny monitor. Serves you right, schmucks.
Sunday saw Joshua & I working on some more arrangement ideas, and tweaking out some demos, before joining friends at The Rainbow for pizza & beer....and more beer at O'Briens in Santa Monica...so much for that limiting business. Oh well, I wasn't driving, and I don't see these folks nearly as often as I should. Sadly, one of our intended posse members had gotten into a little scuffle post-show the night before, and was at home, nursing a split lip and busted head with 13 stitches between them. Sorry, RB...and thanks for the hookup, man.
Monday, Joshua, my old drummer Rob Wood, and I headed out to Mission Hills to film guest spots on the new Fuel TV show Punk Payback, featuring former UFC champion Bas Rutten. At the moment, fORMER's "Blue Divide" from the new album, is being considered for use in the show's opening sequence. I guess we'll find out if it makes the cut November 2nd, when the program debuts.
Bas & his crew were great to us, and I was given the role of bystander/witness to a convenience store stickup. Luckily my role required little actual acting and no lines to be spoken. Still, it took a few hours to get all the shots, and we had two songs to complete before I could fly out in the morning, so we were getting into crunch time.
Somehow we managed to squeeze in a quick dinner & margaritas at Malo, and still get the last two demos cut in the wee hours. Perhaps the tequila had a hand in pushing us over the top...seems unlikely. Either way, we wrapped them up, and I was able to board a flight in the A.M. and make it home in time for a much-needed haircut.
fORMER rehearsed tonight, running through the 40 minutes or so we'll need for the shows in the coming week. Next Wednesday night(8/31) we're playing an early opening slot at Mercy Lounge with Joe Dunn and Oh No No. Doors at 7, and we go on at 8 sharp. We'll be playing a few from the new record, and we might even have a few copies with us that night, if the gods smile upon us as we hope they will. That Friday night(9/2) we're at The Warehouse in Clarksville for Souzapalooza with August Christopher, Chakras, and more. I'm not sure what slot we'll have that night, but will post details as they become available.
Most of September will have us working up a bunch of material for the rest of the year's live shows, which we're booking at the moment. Hopefully we'll be able to get out and see a few faces and places we've missed with this new record. We're going to keep things interesting with the next few shows, changing up the setlists and rotating in and out a number of songs you might not expect. The band are in a good place right now, and we wanna stay on our toes, so we're gonna see if we can't make things a bit of a challenge with our song pool. If nothing else, we'll see who's paying attention.
To those of you who have pre-ordered the new record, thank you so much. There might be a little something extra in it for you too, so stay tuned for details. Speaking of new records, next time you're on FaceBook, look up our buddy Erik's band Lucky Drag. They just released a 9-song EP chock-full of loud guitar goodness, in the vein of the mighty Paul Westerberg. Throw the cat some bones.
HALLELUJAH!!!! I am free from burden. Our new record is in presumably capable hands, and about to be mass-produced(barring any unforeseen technical issues involving artwork, .WAV files, etc.), and should hopefully be in our possession by the end of the month. While, sadly, we had to abandon our plan to do a vinyl pressing, that option still looms on the horizon, possibly better suited for our next project. Instead, we'll have 1000 copies pressed on state-of-the-art compact discs, the latest technological advance pioneered by the fine folks at Sony...cutting edge stuff, people. Recognize.
These CDs, as they'll come to be known, will be lavishly packaged in a wallet-style layout designed by our own Billy Baker, so magnificent that one can almost imagine Vanna White enthusiastically gesticulating over a display copy, whilst Pat Sajak informs one lucky wheel-spinning sonofabitch that they have won their very own to take home with them.
Gabe McCurdy made us look good, Michael Saint-Leon made us sound good, and Axe Body Spray made us smell good.
By the way, I was up until 4:30 this morning uploading files to the dupe joint's server, so if any of this makes sense to any of you, I suggest you seek the help of a professional. I also watched the remake of Nightmare On Elm Street(ehh..ok), and my 114th viewing of A Clockwork Orange(still brilliant!)....what that has to do with anything, I don't know, but these blog things are all about content, so now you know..do with that what you will.
So, anyone waiting to pre-order this thing had better get over to the "store" section and get on it, 'cause it won't be long now before its a hot commodity and I'd hate for you to miss your shot to own a first edition of a future classic.
Speaking of classics, I would like to say thanks to everyone who ordered The Great Affairs "Happy Ender" digital EP or the Kool Kat Musik CD edition. The guys and I are really proud of that stuff, and wish we could've done more to get out and play some of it live for folks, but schedules just won't allow it at the moment. I'd like to think that we'll be able to get together at some point down the road, when the right material has presented itself, and maybe do some more tunes, but for now, The Great Affairs are in a deep sleep. At the very least though, Patrick & I would still like to get out and do some acoustic sets to keep some of that stuff alive, so count on that happening eventually.
For the time being though, my primary focus is getting fORMER back out there, and getting this new record into as many ears as possible with our limited resources. We're working on getting a bunch of material together, from new to the moldiest of oldies that haven't tread the boards in years. We resurrected "Downed Again" last weekend, a song that hadn't been played live in electric form since we originally wrote it in 2006, and stuck it into the set with new stuff like "Head Light" , "Fix You" , and "Blue Divide", and it looks like we may dig back even deeper for upcoming shows, just to keep things interesting for the folks that have been around since the beginning. We've also got about a record and a half of new material ready to work on, that could only be derailed by the coming 2012 apocalypse or us deciding to ride off into the sunset again for a spell....I'll try to keep at least one of those things from happening....I'll leave the other one to John Cusack.
While we wait for these CDs to arrive, we'll be working up a set for an early slot at Mercy Lounge in Nashville on Wednesday, August 31st with Oh No No, Kat Smo, & Joe Dunn. Hell, we might even have the damn things by then...I'll let you know. This one was a rather last-minute booking, but we all love that club, Jem is promoting it, and we would've been rehearsing anyway, so what the f, eh? From there, we get a month off to plan for a big show at 12th & Porter on October 1st, where we might strecth our legs a bit, and throw a few more curve balls. Watch & see.
I'm taking off for L.A. on Thursday morning to do some writing & recording, and probably take in the Sunset Strip Music Festival. I'll be back in a few days, to hopefully find several boxes of "The Kids Deserve Cable" waiting on my doorstep.
We've also had an interesting opportunity to possibly have one of our new tunes used as the theme for an upcoming TV pilot, and I'll hopefully find out more on that while I'm out west. but we've got our fingers crossed that this goes through.
Thanks again to everyone who came our Saturday night. I'll be the first to admit I was worried about opening up with new stuff nobody had really heard before, but you all put my mind it ease right way. I can't wait for everyone to hear the new CD.... Hell, I'm already jonesin' to start the next one.
Yep. That's right. We're 99% of the way there. The record is available for pre-order right here on the "store" page, and we're hoping to ship them out no later than the first week of September. Billy & I are getting together Sunday to finalize the artwork, and first thing Monday morning, I'll be shipping them off to press. That means you need to get your order in, so you can get your advance .mp3 of "Head Light" (grab "Lie To Me" from the audio page if you haven't already...it's free, dammit!), and possibly make yourself eligible for a little something else down the line. We're toying with doing a vinyl pressing, possibly of this album, or maybe a special release down the line just a bit....but more on that later.
Last night's rehearsal was smokin'! The new set is a bit of a shakeup, and has required some actual preparation, which is new to us when it comes to the live show, but everyone has stepped up, so be prepared, because we're coming out swingin' with the new stuff, right from the get-go. We've even dusted off an oddity, inspired by the Stripped show a few weeks back, so this will not be the anything like any fORMER show you've seen recently. We're on a bit of a mission to keep this m.o. going, so look for more "interesting" sets in the future. We've got 2 LPs and 2 EPs worth of stuff to pull from now, and we intend to take advantage of that. We might even sneak in some of The Great Affairs' tunes to see how they fare under more bombastic treatment.
Once we get through Saturday, and getting this CD into the hands of the folks who will be mass-producing it for us, I'm gonna cut out for about a week, and catch a plane to Los Angeles, to continue work on my buddy Joshua Ketchmark's new record. We tracked 4 tunes here in Nashville a couple of months back, so we're gonna continue the writing process and get a few more demos under our belts that I can bring back to the guys before we tackle the second round. I can't wait for everyone to hear this stuff.
That's about it for now, I've got a writing appointment in a couple of hours to prepare for, and some guitars that need new strings.
Yeah, I hit a guy with my truck, and he seemed to feel an apology was in order. Sadly, for him I suppose, I did not concur. You see, this is a parking lot, intended to house vehicles associated with employees of the event taking place INSIDE the fenced-off area. YOU, sir, are attempting to get your kicks without paying, by loitering OUTSIDE that designated space, thus making you the transgressor. I was merely trying to exit the premises, as was my right. I say to you two things(one of which I'm pretty sure I related to you Friday evening with a more colorful flourish): 1.) Put your shirt on until you have something more impressive to display than your gut and the 6 tattoos your neighbor gave you when he got out of jail. and 2) You should have bought a f*%king ticket. (You know, come to think of it, I'm pretty sure that second one is EXACTLY how it came out of my mouth, so I guess I do owe you an apology.....for my coarse language.)
This all happened, by the way, as I was leaving the 3-6 Mafia show I played Friday with The Beauty School Dropouts. Thousands of people inside, hundreds outside, with things on either side of the fence getting pretty rowdy by 1:30AM, which is when I opted to attempt my getaway, and inadvertently nudged the subject in question, who was apparently caught off guard by my tiny, white, V8 SUV and it's virtually invisible taillights.
The show itself was killer, from the setup and the sound, to the crowd and the lineup. Things flowed smoothly, everyone played nice, and drama was nowhere to be found. The 12th & Porter folks know how to throw a party and this shindig was pro all the way....even if we didn't have any beer backstage. Nicholas Colman got his sendoff, and celebrated his farewell with a surf over the crowd and an unforgettable farewell speech. This self-proclaimed "legend" will be missed.
My girl and I spent the following day with the BSD posse, grilling out and diving off the cliffs at a rock quarry. Children that weigh less than my head were jumping the equivalent of a 2-story distance into 30 feet of water, while I drank beer and wished I was that brave. Then, I realized I would have to put my beverage down in order to swim, and that just seemed like nonsense, so I was OK with my absent valor. Good times, nonetheless.
Sunday, I typed up the "liner notes" for the new fORMER record, so that Billy could put the finishing touches on the artwork. Earlier in the week, Patrick & I had gone into The Switchyard for one last round of final mixing, and walked out with CDRs of the new album. We've been listening to it off and on ever since, to make sure everything is as it should be, and we just gave the thumbs-up for mastering, so once the final master is in our hands, and the art is slapped into the templates, we're off to the presses, and the real wait begins.
While this is all going down, we're rehearsing a set for the August 13th benefit show at The Rutledge, that will once again be a game-changer for us. We're setting aside several standards and replacing them with new stock, so expect the unexpected and buckle up, 'cause we're not gonna waste any time getting to the new shit, and hopefully giving you all something different to chew on until the record drops.
Once this thing is ready, we'll start charting a course, and maybe doing a few shows in places we haven't played in a while. For now, the main order of business is getting the kids their damn cable.
See you all soon,
Well, we survived last weekend's installment of Nashville Rock:Stripped, and I'm about to post the video on our homepage to prove it(you'll wanna fast-forward to approximately the 13-minute mark. That's where our set actually begins.). We might've been a little rough around the edges, but we were loose with gusto, so no harm done. Besides, we got to work up a few songs that had never really gotten out much since they were committed to tape all those years ago.
Post-show, I had to split for Illinois for a few days to take care of some business, but I'm back, and we're getting things on track for the next show in August, and the impending release of "The Kids Deserve Cable". Our engineer Michael has been running mixes for us the last couple of weeks, letting us make notes, and Thursday morning I'll be headed in to do the final tweaks before we move to the mastering phase. I've been toying with different running orders, and I think I've settled on one that seems to flow right proper, so once that is set in stone, it's down to artwork, which rests in the capable hands of Mr. Billy Baker.
Don't forget, I'll be playing with The Beauty School Dropouts next Friday, outside 12th & Porter, supporting 3-6 Mafia. We go on at 9 sharp on the main stage. Help us give Nick Jagger a proper sendoff.Headbussaazzzzz!!!!!!!
Finally, the latest from The Great Affairs, entitled "Happy Ender", which was previously a digital-only 6 song EP, has now been re-released by Kool Kat Musik in CD form, and I have supplied them with 7 additional demos of previously unheard tunes, so it is now an LP. Go to the store section and click on the header to find the "buy" link. Thank you.
Keep watching and listening for new video and additional preview tracks from the forthcoming fORMER record, as well as stuff I'm working on with a few other artists. It's gonna be a busy summer. Lots of miles yet to log.
The kids, and their cable, that is.....let's hope so, because we just spent the weekend cutting what should be some of the last tracks we'll need to declare this fORMER record ready for it's final mix. All that is left are a few of Patrick's embellishments and a rhythm guitar pass that got under our radar Sunday. We'll get to work on these finishing touches bright & early Thursday, and; with any luck, be well on our way to an ultimate mix within the following week.
It's hard to believe we started this album almost 3 years ago, but looking back on it, I don't think I'd change much about the path we took to get here. There are still some hurdles yet to be cleared before this thing sees the light of day, and for those of you who have seen some of the early edits from the album photo shoot and wondered why there are only 4 of us in the frame, let me address the first of them.
Lee is absent from the photos because, although he will likely always be involved with the band on some level, he is currently enrolled in pharmacy studies at MTSU, his schedule is hectic, to say the least, and even though fORMER isn't very active as a live act, we do need to maintain a consistent lineup in order to be able to deliver the show our friends and fans are accustomed to. This is next to impossible to do when Patrick & I have to un-learn and re-learn guitars parts on a gig by gig basis, as dictated by whether or not there will be 4 or 5 players on the stage. It also takes certain songs out of contention when assembling the setlist, simply because we don't have time to adapt them for a 4-piece to perform.
With all of this and more taken into consideration, Lee agreed that he could not commit fully to any particular schedule going forward, and since we'll need to do our part to promote this record, and hopefully get these new songs into as many ears as possible, we need to either proceed without him, as we had been while he was abroad, or find someone to fill his shoes. For the time being, i think we'd like to carry on as is, and hope that Lee will be able to join us live as often as possible.
Rest assured, Lee's presence is felt throughout the record, and he was in the studio with us all day Sunday, adding keys, guitars, and backing vocals to a handful of tracks, so I'd say he appears on more than half of the tunes. As long as he can make it work, we're happy to have him, and the door will always be open for him to contribute in any fashion he can. For now, his official status will be "Secret Weapon".
This Friday night at The Rutledge, you will most definitely get all 5 of us for the Nashville Rock: Stripped show, and we'll be pulling out, as promised, a bunch of stuff you have never heard us do, and will probably never hear us do again. I'm really looking forward to presenting the songs in this setting for the first time, and taking some creative liberties with a few of our "standards", so please try to catch this set, because it really will be something unique.
Our next show will be in Nashville on the 13th of August, when we'll be busting out a brand new set, including a couple of numbers from the new record that are guaranteed to adhere themselves to that part of your brain that instantly and permanently retains the good stuff. I'll dish the details on this hoedown as they become available.
Again, if you haven't picked up the new digital-only "Happy Ender" EP from The Great Affairs, I urge you to do so, because it's great, I'm proud of it, and ultimately I get a cut of those dollars. If you don't have the other stuff that's out there, you might as well spring for that too, because you're gonna be jonesing for it if you don't...or at least that's what I'd like to think.
At the end of the month, I'll be playing this big outdoor event with The Beauty School Dropouts, opening for 3-6 Mafia, in the lot across from Mai & 12th & Porter. This thing is gonna be insane, and I will probably be filming from the stage, because I have a feeling these goings-on will deserve being preserved for posterity....and it's Nick Colman's last show with the band, so if there was ever a better time for his bass to finally clock one of us in one of his "whirling dervish" moments, I missed it. Be there.
Details on the album release soon, I hope....and stay tuned here for more rare audio to be posted, including plenty of stuff you can just walk away with for free.
Well, it looks like maintaining this site won't be all that time-consuming, other than sifting through the mass of demo tracks that have accumulated over the last several years, in search of the handful that don't feature embarrassingly off-key vocals or otherwise cringe-worthy performance elements. Problem is, I've never been one for doing "full production" demos, and instead have always favored the quickie approach of just dropping in a drum track(if even, more than half of the stuff is just live vocal & acoustic guitar), adding some guitars, plunking away on the bass in such a fashion that it sounds roughly like a bass-player did it for me, and finally adding whatever vocal ideas I have...usually all in a single pass for each, or until it doesn't thoroughly agitate me to hear it in playback. 99.9% of the time, I'm not that concerned with the overall presentation, so long as whoever I'm attempting to interest in performing the song(usually my band at the time) can wrap their head around the idea, and appreciate it's eventual true worth. These are rarely designed to ever be consumed by any other listeners. That leaves me with the task of selecting unique content for this site, in order to keep it interesting, without offending anyone's selective tastes with a bevy of lo-fi ear-turds. This is more difficult than you would think, but as a man on a mission, I will persevere until said task is seen through to completion.....even if it means dusting off some potentially shameful oldies and compromising my long-standing cool. ;)
Since my inaugural post, fORMER have been busy, dealing with the business of getting together the pieces that will make this new record complete. We shot new photos with Gabe McCurdy on Saturday. Gabe did the most recent pics for The Great Affairs and Henry's other band Katie Kerkhover & The Die Nasties. Billy has cooked up a cool concept for the cover art, and these shots were designed to tie-in with the television mock-up some of you may have seen on our FaceBook page or elsewhere. Things ran smoother than Henry's newly-waxed chest, and we should have some proofs back in a week or so, that Billy will be able to work his editing magic on.
In the meantime, after a couple of rehearsals this week, we're back to work at The Switchyard, cutting what will likely be the last of the tracks for the new album, "Drown", "Head Light", & "Fix You", as well as "Do It All Again", a track for our buddy Shane Tassart of Best Of Seven, for a project he's working on.
From there, we'll get down to the business of putting together our set for Nashville Rock: Stripped on the 15th. Yes, Henry will be playing an old-school upright bass for most, if not all, of the set, and we are going to play songs from the first record that we have NEVER played as a full band....songS, as in plural, so you know that this will be one not to miss, because once the new record is out, we're going to have a lot more tunes to choose from, and some of the usual suspects are going to be seeing the bench, or maybe even the shelf. I'll be sad to see some of them go, but we have to make room for the new kids.
In other news of interest(to me, at least) The Great Affairs "Happy Ender" digital EP has been selling well, according to a small deposit made to my bank account recently. I thank you all for that. In fact, I just got off the phone with Kool Kat Musik, and they are going to press a physical exclusive of the EP, expanded to LP with yet-to-be-determined bonus tracks. These might be demos of songs that didn't make the record, live tracks, or most likely a combination of both. I just need to weed through the archives to see what we've got that fits the bill. I'll post a release date as soon as the details are worked out.
I spent the weekend drinking too much, and eating far more than my body required to sustain itself, but managed to survive nonetheless. Caught the NY Dolls/Poison/Motley Crue show on Sunday, where I was able to hook up with my former Best Of Seven bandmate Mr. Rob(The R.O.B./Bullit) Wood, who was working the tour, and my buddy Robert "Ragman" Long, who scored us some amazing seats. Looks like I'll be seeing these guys again in late August when I head back out to L.A. to pick up work on Joshua Ketchmark's record. I'll be out for 4 or 5 days, writing and demoing the next batch of tunes for that, and hopefully catching up with a few other folks and projects while I'm there. At the bare minimum, I'll be getting some In N Out Burger, and Del Taco, so it's a win/win, whether a single song gets finished or not.
I hope everybody had a good 4th of July, I know I did, courtesy of Sea Dog Wild Blueberry Wheat Ale, and some great company. See some of you on the 15th.
...., now I have another page to maintain. Yeah, but I did it to myself, so I guess complaining about it; however in-character that may be for me, is just ridiculous. So, here is the first blog of the first official Denny Smith Music website. Honestly, I figured it would be easier to consolidate the many things I'm involved in musically, creating a hub of activity away from FaceBook, MySpace, Twitter(I don't tweet anyway...just can't get down with that. Sorry.), etc., where I can post demos, links to releases new and old, and show info, as well as having a central mailing list for anyone who might wanna keep up with me/my bands without having to scour the social networks for the latest. Vain?....maybe, but the fact is, I've got too many things going on daily to wanna hover around my computer to make sure everyone is getting spammed with bulletins about my most recent monumental achievement. This way, it's up to you if you wanna hear about it. Sign up for the email list on the home page, and I'll do my best to keep you informed in a consistent but unobtrusive manner.Yeah, I'll still be active at the center of the universe, AKA Facebook, but I'd just like to have a better and more manageable platform for presenting new tunes, video, deep thoughts, and the like, so this will be it for the time being.
If you wander through the tabs at the top of the profile, you'll see a host of different pages, which will slowly become flush with content, as I take the initiative to upload it. For now, there are bits and pieces in place for you to peruse at your leisure, with more to come soon-ish. There are Facebook links to my shop in Illinois, The Great Affairs, & fORMER, so "LIKE" each of these, as they are easily some of the most likeable entities you are bound to discover in your internet travels, and well-deserving of your esteem. There is also a store, where you can purchase some of the releases I've had a hand in creating, thus contributing to my personal coffers, which I greatly appreciate. Similarly, there will be a bunch of tracks floating around on the "Audio" section that you can make your own free of charge by simply downloading them. There is a calendar, where I'll post any shows I may be doing, with whichever band I may be doing them with, plus any solo acoustic dates I do. I'd like to dive a little harder into the co-writing thing, since the fORMER record is about to wrap up, so hopefully I'll be out and about more doing some writers' nights in town too.
Right now, The Great Affairs' new EP is available(see STORE), fORMER is (I hope) just weeks away from finishing our new record, I've got shows coming up with The Beauty School Dropouts and fORMER over the next few weeks, and I'm just under halfway into writing(in Los Angeles) and recording(in Nashville, with the fORMER rhythm section) a new album for Joshua Ketchmark, so things are busy in Pastry Park.
If you've managed to read this far, I applaud your tenacity, and hope you'll stay tuned.