Thursday, May 21st, 2020
On the surface, I suppose April was pretty uneventful on the live music front, save for transmissions via the interweb of occasionally suspect audio and video fidelity. I myself managed to contribute some 50 tunes; just me and an acoustic guitar, many of which I hadn’t even thought of, much less played in a decade or more. Let me tell ya, it can be a weird feeling to revisit your own compositions when that much time has elapsed. It’s almost like learning a cover tune, except they tend to come to you a little easier once your brain starts connecting a few of the dots it initially seamed together when you were writing it, and your natural creative instincts lead you back down once-familiar paths. It’s a trip how quickly these things can coalesce, from somebody mentioning a title you can barely recall, to playing & singing through a song; top to bottom, like it was yesterday you performed it last, when in fact it was 12 years ago. The human mind is truly something else. I can never remember my siblings’ birthdays, but if it rhymes and is set to a melody, it’s locked away for eternity, ready to go whenever I need it. Sorry, fam.
If you wanna see/hear any of these, they’re scattered all over my Facebook Music page HERE.
Speaking of birthdays, I celebrated one yesterday by spending an afternoon in the studio with my TGA bandmate Kenny Wright, and our Producer/Engineer/Mixer/Occasional Slide Guitarist/Voice Of Reason Michael Saint-Leon, putting what would’ve been deemed the “finishing touches” on our latest LP, had we not also been cutting acoustic tracks for a last-minute edition to the record that we hope to finish tracking over the next few weeks. If not for this straggler, we’d probably be listening to a final master shortly, but this tune was too cool to leave behind, and let’s face it, we have time. With the world essentially stuck in park, we might as well get an oil change and check the tire pressure while we wait.
Besides, we’re ahead of the curve on everything else. Artwork is more or less ready, with every song getting it’s own “sleeve”, new merchandise on deck, and shows….well, we have some stuff on the books for July through November, but it’s still too soon to say how much; if any, action old Jean-Claude Damme Van is actually gonna get in 2020. We’re optimistic, but wish in one hand and…..yeah, you know the rest. However things shake out regarding live dates, I think we’re going to shoot for an early October(10/02/20 perhaps?) album release, giving us time to properly line up the proverbial ducks, and deliver this thing in the spectacular fashion we believe it deserves, but I suspect some “singles” might be appearing well ahead of that projected street-date.
Between now and then, here are some links to recent interviews I did for a couple of cool Podcasts:
THE RECORD MACHINE SHOW : I talk about my solo record, where I came from and how I got here musically, and what might be on the horizon for The Great Affairs
Speaking of the shop, we’re scheduled to re-open next week, so I’m gonna have to sign off here, and get to work on facilitating that from 475 miles away, so please be good to each other, and I’ll check in with another update as soon as we have some worthy scuttlebutt….like maybe a new song to share. Keep your eyes peeled, and stay safe.
The Great Affairs
p.s. If you have a shot of yourself wearing one of our masks from STORE FRONTIER, or any merch really, please send ‘em our way. We love seeing that stuff out in the wild.
Thursday, April 23rd, 2020.
WTF kinda SyFy Network, starring Debbie Gibson and Lorenzo Lamas, crazier than Soylent Green’s ending, batsh#t flick did I wake up in this morning?!?!?
Since I last popped in with an update, our guitarist’s house was hit by a tornado, and a plague has enveloped the planet, just as we were about to take it over, hot on the heels of a pair of successful, post-surgery comeback shows.
While the world watches and waits, hanging on every almost-sure-to-be-later-retracted word from the higher-ups, we’ve been toiling away(as much as these “social distancing” guidelines will allow at least) on the last few tracks we’ll need to sew up the new TGA LP. In fact, of the 11 songs slated to appear, 8 of them are mixed and making the inter-band rounds, so we can all haggle over whether or not they’re actually the “finals”. Once we’re allowed to reconvene, and Mr. Miller is done managing various contractors at his weather-ravaged estate, we’ll get the last of his guitar contributions on the remaining tunes, and be off to the races.
Now, when exactly is this thing gonna come out? That’s a good question. I’m guessing it might be prudent to wait out the ‘Rona.
Still, we’ve already got new merch on hand..stickers, guitar picks, a new double-sided T-shirt design ready to roll…Hell, we even went ahead and commissioned Store Frontier to make some print-to-order face masks, since the new logo seemed so perfect for that particular application, and the good ones are in such short supply everywhere.
Of course, we do have some slightly more upbeat apparel options, like my “From The Dark 2020” solo design, which may end up being something of a collector’s item, seeing as I may not get to actually support that record with a proper show in this calendar year. Still, if you wanna help a brother out, you can get that design in a T-Shirt, Hoodie(these are really cool), or various other styles, like Girls Tees and Kids sizes.
Those are available HERE
And finally, the sunniest bit of fresh swag we have on offer…our fabulous “Blue Duster” design is now available HERE in 3 different colors of Tie-Dye.
But enough about our exquisite apparel options….
With regard to shows, John Brown’s was a blast. I’m both proud and quite happy to report that my pipes were able to endure a long night of loud Rock N’ Roll, and that blasting through 20+ songs without flagging appears to once again be a possibility for me. I am taking a few extra precautions to protect my instrument, so if you don’t see me around much before showtime, I’m probably holed-up somewhere, in an attempt to preserve both my singing voice, and what’s left of my hearing. I’m not being antisocial, just trying to make sure I can give the job everything I have when it’s time.
Unfortunately we had to either cancel or postpone a handful of dates, just as I was cleared for full-time action, and our Summer calendar was starting to come together. With any luck, once this COVID-19 business is sorted out(fingers crossed), we’ll be able to get some of these back on the books. For now, we have a few things we’ve yet to announce for June, July, August, and beyond, but the crystal ball is currently a bit hazy to forecast the true likelihood of these engagements actually happening, so please check our site and socials periodically, and I’ll try my best to keep the calendars updated.
In the meantime, since so many of us are stuck at home, I’ve started doing one-a-day acoustic performances…nothing fancy, just an iPhone capturing me somewhere with my guitar…usually my kitchen, living room, or studio space…and doing my damnedest to get through some requests, several of which have required a deep dive into my personal archives, because they were either songs I’d tracked and forgotten, or stuff we’d simply never played live.
There have been some pretty cool surprises, digging these things out. I might actually keep a few of them around for future shows…you know, in the “new normal”? For now though, you can find these on my Facebook artist page HERE
So far(as of April 23rd), here’s what I’ve gotten to:
TGA: In The Wreckage, The Next Three Minutes, Dance Alone, I Can’t Sleep Alone, Gone, Eyes In Every Room, She Likes, Dodge
fORMER: Damned, In The Gray, Please, Needles & Pins, Make It Out…(Be sure to track down my buddy Henry Go’s “bass/vocal response" to a few of these…fantastic!)
Solo: I Will, She’s Got Your Eyes(unreleased), Hold On To Me(from the Thomas ‘Absolution’ record), Trying To Break Your Heart, Glass Slipper, One Mississippi
The Die Youngs: Let Me Go
Best Of Seven: Underwhelmed, Anything, Sleepin’ With The Radio On
FOXX: King Of Fools
Covers: September Gurls(Big Star), (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, & Understanding(Elvis Costello & The Attractions), (I Just) Died In Your Arms (Cutting Crew), Raspberry Beret (Prince & The Revolution)
Amy Moby, who works for a great No-Kill animal shelter in Pekin, IL called TAPS, caught one of these and asked me if I’d do a FaceBook Live fundraiser for their organization, so I’ll be dipping my toe in the FaceBook Live waters for the first time ever on Tuesday, April 28th, from 6-7:00PM CST, and again, I’ll be streaming from my FaceBook Artist page.
The event page, with all the info, is right HERE.
I think that just about gets us up to speed, so I’ll leave you with that, AND point you in the direction of this podcast that I taped an interview with recently. It should air next week at some point, and as soon as I have the link, I’ll post it in all the appropriate places. The host, James Michael Hollenstein and I talked all kinds of nonsense. I was 4 cups of coffee into my day at the time, so I hope you’ll excuse whatever rambling they’re unable to edit out.
Alrighty then, you know the drill...
Be good to each other, but not so good that you have to come within the recommended six foot radius.
The Great Affairs
We did it. We plugged this stuff back in, stepped onto a stage, and lived to tell. My voice is in fact operational, and we shall now commence a gradual return to active duty, beginning this Friday in Marion, IL, at the world famous John Brown’s On The Square, with a few of our closest friends. We’ll follow that up with a St. Patrick’s Day set at The Cobra in East Nashville, with the road dogs of Stone Senate, Cody Parks & The Dirty South, and Atomic Love from Chicago. From there, we’ll make a quick run down to Birmingham, Alabama on the 21st, for a long-overdue visit to the CBGB’s of the Southeast, The Nick. We’ll be supporting BeItTheMeans, and Pearl Bottom Radio from Atlanta will be on hand as well.
As for our big comeback show, it was a sold out night for the Framing Hanley gents at Exit/In, and we were happy to have an opportunity to test the waters with a quick 25-minutes set in front of an already mostly-full house of folks there to celebrate the release of their new album. It was exactly what we needed, and now we know we’ve at least got approximately a half hour’s-worth of available gas in the tank….so hell, lets go play for 2.5 hours this weekend.What could go wrong?
On the solo tip, I’ve got a couple of acoustic shows on the calendar, with more in the works. I’ve got new shirts that’ll be traveling with me, and yeah, we’ll have them at band shows too. The record has been getting a little attention overseas, with airplay in Switzerland, and some good press in the UK, along with a song or two making Spotify playlists here & there. I appreciate folks sharing it, and showing it love. Thank you. I wish I had more time to get behind it, but I’ve been tied up with rehabbing my voice, along with trying to complete a new record with The Great Affairs. In fact, I spent a good portion of this afternoon re-cutting some guitars for a track that’s already been mixed, but just wasn’t doing the trick for me. We’re at that point in the process on a lot of this material, putting the finishing touches on some tunes, starting on lead vocals for the last few, and perpetually tweaking things we might’ve thought at one point we’d already put behind us.
The reason for all these fits & starts? It’s pretty simple actually. It’s a fairly eclectic batch this time around. Where ‘Ten & 2’ was more or less a straight Rock record, aside from a lone ballad that Kenny brought to the table, this one is all over the damn place. Some of these songs pre-date my first solo record from 2016, and were even contenders for that LP, but got the bump in favor of the more Singer/Songwriter-type numbers. A handful of them are a little heavier on the production side of things than we’d normally tackle, and will be all but impossible to play live, which is another reason they’ve languished on the bench for a few years. Now that we’ve taken the plunge on them however, I wish we’d given them a shot sooner, because they’re shaping up to be fantastic additions to the canon.
I suspect you’ll be able to judge for yourself in a few short months. For now, you can hear “I’m Alright”, “Satellite” and “In The Wreckage” as part of ‘The 2019 Sessions’ EP that we released last year digitally. Those three will be included with the new full-length, but don’t even begin to illustrate the scope of the whole collection, believe me. It’s the goods.
OK then, I’m gonna sign off now, and watch the new David Crosby documentary, because I find the fact that he’s still alive to be downright amazing. I need to know his secret.
Be good to each other,
The Great Affairs
It’s been 5 weeks and some change since I went under the knife to correct the bit of damage I’d done to my vocal cords, and this morning I headed in for what would hopefully be one last followup scope at Vanderbilt, fingers crossed I might get the go-ahead to start performing live again.
My luck held, and everything seems to be in working order thus far, meaning I’m good to resume crooning in public. In the interest of not subjecting myself to this rigamarole ever again, we’ll be easing back into action with a few shows over the next month or two, and putting the freshly repaired apparatus, and our slightly atrophied chops through the paces gradually, so we can get back up to speed gradually and maybe stay there a while.
Our first order of business will be a quick support slot at Framing Hanley’s album release show on Saturday, February 22nd. That goes down at Exit/In, starting at 7:30 with Sons Of Our Fathers, followed by us, Lonelyouth, and the headliners. I’m pretty sure some tickets are still available at the moment, but I’d imagine this will sell-out, so if you’re looking to attend, it might be best to ante up pronto.
Once we get the “comeback” under our belts, we go straight into studio mode from the 23rd-30th, at various locations, doing guitars, the last needed bass parts, and probably some vocals, as we head into the home stretch of tracking.
As soon as we get that behind the scenes business out of the way, it’s time to stretch our legs a bit, and hit up our favorite haunt John Brown’s On The Square in Marion, IL, on Friday, March 6th for an evening of anything goes, where we’ll find out whether or not we can still play all these songs we’ve written over the last decade or so. I’m confident our little hiatus will prove beneficial, and I can think of no better place to test my theory.
I’ll have new solo merch on hand, with these ‘From The Dark 2020’ tees. You can get them now via our StoreFrontier (CLICK HERE) page(in hoodies and guys’ & girls’ styles), but I’ll have a limited number of them with me at upcoming TGA & solo dates as well.
As for those solo engagements, I’m still ironing out a few details, but they’re in the works. It’ll be just me & an acoustic guitar…maybe a harmonica or two…doing the songs, as they were originally written, from my records, TGA stuff, some fORMER, and whatever covers I might feel like taking a crack at.
Finally, I’ll leave you with these shots from a recent video shoot, where we basically played slightly more belligerent versions of ourselves, as a rock band hired to realize the vision of the another songwriter. Keep an eye out for Thunderbunny’s “The Ballad Of Wonder Hussy”, and catch an Oscar-worthy performance from our very own Patrick J. Miller.
Be good to each other,
Captain's Log, 12:26PM, 1/15/20
Well, here we are. 2020. I hope everyone survived Christmas and New Years with all their digits intact and whatnot. Things were fairly subdued around these parts, aside from the usual scattering we do in order to spend time with our extended families: Matt to Colorado, Patrick & I to Illinois, and Kenny over the river and through the woods.
We’re all safely back in the great state of Tennessee now, and while we haven’t officially reconvened in a music-making capacity, that is about to change. On Tuesday, Matt will be laying down his bass tracks on a few more tunes for the new record. From there, this stuff gets handed off to Patrick, then on to our go-to piano man Michael Webb, and finally circling back around to me for a few finishing guitar touches before we start crooning over them.
On that note, I guess this would be a good time to address the whole voice surgery thing. I actually just left my 10-day followup appointment, and the news is all good! The procedure was successful, and everything is healing as expected, so it’s just a couple more days of restricted speaking for me. I’ll still require a few weeks of therapy to get everything back in shape before I can start singing, but we can get back to work once all the requisite muscles are cooperating as they should. I can tell you this much: I feel a whole lot better already, but please be patient with us as we ease back into the live thing, because I wanna be sure everything is indeed fully operational, so I can hopefully avoid ever having to go through this crap again.
And yeah, I know, I’ve got a solo album I said I’d try to do some shows for, so I’m gonna be working on that too, even it’s just me with an acoustic guitar, banging through the stuff all by my lonesome up there. I promise I’ll make a few dates happen.
If you haven’t heard my new record yet, it’s now pretty much everywhere you can stream or download music, so name your poison, because I can’t think of a single digital platform that hasn’t made ‘From The Dark’ available, legal or otherwise.
Should you wish to acquire it the (now)old-fashioned way, you can snag it on CD from all the usual suspects like Amazon, CDBaby, Kool Kat Musik, or directly from our website by clicking on the "STORE" tab above.
Thanks again to everyone who’s purchased, streamed, pirated, and bootlegged it already. I hope it hits the sweet spot, however it found you.
I think that’s everything worth talking about at the moment, so thank you for reading this far, and I please stay tuned for further updates. If all goes to plan, we’ll be scribbling some things on the calendar soon.
Be good to each other,
The Great Affairs
Well, the worst of it is over. My throat’s still a little sore, but my tongue, teeth, lips and jaw seem to be responding well to this dope they’ve given me, so I guess I’m just gonna coast on these chemicals for a few days until the aches & pains hopefully subside. I suppose it stands to reason that having a breathing tube in, tiny blades slicing, and lasers shot down your windpipe might leave a fella with some residual discomfort, so if this is as bad as that’s gonna get, I feel pretty good about it.
Thanks to the folks at Vanderbilt (and my home nurse/chauffeur/personal assistant Joann) for taking great care of me.
I’ve got a few really sharp before & after pics from down in there, but in the interest of not grossing anyone out, or having Facebook lock my account for posting what might offend someone looking at my vocal cords from the wrong angle and assuming they’re something else entirely, I’m gonna spare y’all. It’s my understanding that they got everything done that needed done, and I should be on a relatively short road to recovery. I can’t speak AT ALL for the rest of this week, but I’ll be easing back into normal speech over the course of the next, and shortly thereafter I should be cleared to resume attempting what I’ve been passing off as singing all these years.
Truthfully, I’m relieved to be putting this behind me. I’d been fighting it for months, working around the damage without even really knowing that’s what I was dealing with. The post-gig soreness; not to mention the stress of simply never knowing how long my voice would hold up while staring down the clock, had made playing live more an exercise in managing anxiety than the much-needed release it should be. I’m looking forward to looking forward to shows again.
I’ll do a more proper update once I’ve seen the docs again in a few days, and they get me up to speed on what’s next. While my immediate family learns to love me as a mime, I’m gonna take this downtime to wrap up some year-end business, spin a few records I’ve been wanting to really dig into, finish reading Danny Gatton’s biography, get started on the cover art for The Great Affairs’ next LP(It has a title.), and sort out how to juggle doing the band AND some overdue solo dates to support ‘From The Dark’ once I’m out of the weeds.
Be good to each other,