Friday, April 29, 2016
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
In a search for old dB's master tapes, I was informed by Mark Bingham that he had a stack of old 1/4" reels that belonged to me. Mark is a brilliant musician and producer whom I got to know during the recording of Out of Time by R.E.M., and he was the proprietor of the now-shuttered Piety Street Recording Studio (where the likes of Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint did The River in Reverse, among hundreds of other notable clients). Prior to Hurricane Katrina, I had delivered a bunch of recording tape to him for baking and transfer--old recording tape sheds its oxide, where the information lies, as it ages, and baking in a convection oven preserves the oxide long enough to make a digital transfer, which should be done fairly immediately. While Mark's staff had not performed these operations, they did provide a safe storage area for the tapes during Katrina, for which I will forever be grateful.
So Mark boxed the tapes up and sent them to me in NC. I pondered on how to proceed from that point--and part of my conundrum was the fact that some of the tapes were recorded on a Tascam 388, a bulky piece of old technology that ran 1/4" tape at 7 1/2 IPS and had eight tracks. In fact, a lot of stuff was done in Los Angeles on that machine, which I'd sold before I moved to New Orleans. It was not the most universal of formats in pre-modern recording, so I was concerned that I might have trouble finding one.
Enter Keith Leedham and The Tape Farm, located on the delightfully-named Chicken Road in Lebanon TN. I found Keith via a Google search of "Tascam 388 digital transfer," where the Tape Farm popped right up. We began corresponding, and Keith assured me that he could do all of my old stuff up right and get it back to me in digital form. So the box went out to Lebanon on a wing and a prayer.
It has just arrived at my door to much joyous and postal carrier amusement due to old-guy happy dancing on the porch.
These are, in large part, demos of songs from about 1984 through 1993, recorded in New York and Los Angeles, many unsung but instrumentally finished tracks. It occurred to me that I might want to take a crack at tying up some loose ends on songs that sounded good in my memory. Not sure if anything will come of it, but I'm going to give it the old college try.
And I want to say thank you to Keith Leedham and The Tape Farm for having created a situation for me that I actually CAN try something like working on a nearly 30-year-old song, where I might have consigned it to magnetic heaven otherwise.
PS: And, as it turns out, Keith is no slouch as a songwriter and recording artist.
Sunday, April 24, 2016
I played both sides of the single plus other new songs. I played a few Winston-Salem-centric numbers, including my tribute to the late Sam Moss and a really old song about the Robert Porth house. The PA was a great size and got me over the low din of my twin Fender Pro Juniors enough to where I could lean back and let 'er rip on some of my vocals.
Among my audience were Troy "Corky" Mcmillan and Chuck Dale Smith who were members of Winston-Salem's legendary band Sacred Irony. That was one of the bands that inspired me to really concentrate on being a rock musician because they'd done that and sounded great, but were only a year or two older than me. So it was a real treat to play for them. Rob Slater, who was the original lead guitarist for Sneakers and who now plays with the Luxuriant Sedans, was in attendance as well; it's always a pleasure to see and speak with Rob.
I got finished and packed and hit the road for Durham late. On the way home, WNAA's disc jockey was playing nothing but Prince, so I got to groove all the way to Burlington. He played the remarkable version of "Let's Go Crazy" from the 2013 Billboard Music Awards, so I'll link that here too for your edification.
Thursday, April 21, 2016
Hope to see you there!
Monday, April 18, 2016
This morning, Mark, James (seen right) and I went into James' studio around the corner from my house and set to work making some changes in the last mixes of the single. James has been out on tour with the supremely talented Phil Cook who's supporting his new album, Southland Mission, and he's about to leave again for another three weeks. Mark is also busy busy busy with teaching and shows with what seems like a dozen different bands. So we were lucky to snag a day together while they were around to get everything in order.
And... it is! The mixes we've come up with have a ton of melody and harmony and passing chords and drama and space and pathos and all that good stuff you've come to expect from Peter Holsapple songs. I hope you like them, but that goes without saying, doesn't it?
We'll live with these mixes for a couple of days, tweak whatever we need to and then send them off to be mastered. Then it's cover art and pressing and we're in business!
In the meantime, I'm playing a house concert in Winston-Salem on Saturday April 23...actually, it's a guitar store concert, since it's happening at Heyday Guitars. Here's a link to the Facebook event page. Please note that tickets need to be purchased in advance of the show as none can be sold at the door. The show starts at 8, and I'll be doing two sets of tunes. Lots of new stuff, some old favorites, some covers, some stories... 'an evening with'...I draw the line at fixing your dinner. Come down to the show if you can! I'd love to play for you.
Wednesday, March 9, 2016
More news soon.
Tuesday, February 2, 2016
Well into the process with Mark Simonsen and James Wallace, getting this record happening. And happening it is.
We had Mark Daumen on tuba.
We had Mark Daumen on tuba.
I got to th'ow down on upright today.
Mark vibed the place last week.
Double bass drums!
And double drummers!!
The adventure continues.
Monday, January 11, 2016
A Sunday morning, sixteen years old, sitting in my family Volkswagen in front of the newsstand on West Fourth Street, reading another issue of Billboard cover to cover. And there, in black and white, was the ad announcing Hunky Dory's success, as well as the release of a new single "Starman."
I'd bought a remaindered copy of The Man Who Sold the World on Mercury some months before, on a tip from reading CREEM or Rock Scene undoubtedly. The production by Tony Visconti was fuzzy and wild, and the nascent performances of Mick Ronson and Woody Woodmansey were inspiring, especially on the riffy "Black Country Rock." So I was ready to love whatever Bowie brought next.
Hunky Dory was so much softer, so much more gentle that it was a bit off-putting until "Queen Bitch" came through the speakers. It was an homage to the Velvet Underground and was certainly a presage of what The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust was going to sound like.
But it was the songs, the infallible tunefulness, the lyrical state of wonder and vast field of subject matter that made Bowie rise above. Every album took the listener somewhere specific and left you there with a phrasebook and binoculars and little else; you had to look for yourself to see where he'd planted you, and it was up to you to fill with that wonder he described. We ate it up.
I often wondered how he could maintain his thirst for the new, especially as a touring musician whose bread and butter were 'the hits.' How do you get new songs across when your paying audience basically demands all of your greatest successes only? I can only imagine how frustrating that must have been for him.
David Bowie's death yesterday at 69 was preceded on Friday by the release of his final album, Blackstar. (It just does not seem right or real to call it his last, and I know full well that record labels far and wide will begin releasing rough mixes and isolated vocals that are in his catalog until they've squeezed every last dime from him.) It is a phenomenal album, and Bowie challenged his listeners to the very end.
I'm grateful to have lived in a time when he did.