Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Eureka!


The exclamation 'Eureka!' is famously attributed to the ancient Greek scholar Archimedes. He reportedly proclaimed "Eureka! Eureka!" (i.e. twice) after he had stepped into a bath and noticed that the water level rose, whereupon he suddenly understood that the volume of water displaced must be equal to the volume of the part of his body he had submerged. -- Wikipedia

It would appear we have made significant progress. The third set of test pressings have been approved by my listening committee (basically, Brent who mastered the record, James and Mark who produced it with me, and two other friends with nice higher-end stereo units) and I've signed off on it with the pressing plant.

So that means...

Eight to ten more weeks of waiting for the product to arrive. I guess that means I'm heading back to 30A in January empty-handed again. At least when I announce "I have a record coming out," I won't feel like a bald-faced liar.

Stay tuned. As a taste, here's what the cover's going to look like.


Cheery, no?

Monday, October 17, 2016

W. Paroo, Pt. 2

"Yay! Any day now!"
So, months later, here I am by the window again, looking longingly at my empty street for any sign of the UPS driver who has on the truck my re-done test pressings for the new single. Winthrop Paroo resurfaces as a Beckett character, with additional (and I do mean additional) dialogue by Marcel Proust.

These are the new test pressings that have been made since the first set were corrupted by foreign matter that got into the stamper which rendered the vinyl unlistenable; my first thought was that it might sound as good if it had been sitting in a gravel driveway for two weeks before I played it.

"Yep, any day now."
Confidence is high that this will fix the issue and we can move along to getting the record manufactured. 

I think we can safely rule out having it in hand in time to sell for Christmas, as the turnaround time is about two months. But I don't think it'd be a particularly cheery gift to present to anyone anyway, considering the grim subject matter of the a-side. So I can live with a January release, even if it throws off the concept of 2016 being The Year That Broke Peter Holsapple by a year.

"Any day..."
Thank you, loyal patron of the arts, for hanging in there. All the pieces are ready for release--artwork, download card, publicist (I don't think he's ever worked public executions before, but this single will surely work to his advantage if he ever does press for a hanging), glum-but-effective video. World conquest is surely at hand. 

Now I just need to sign off on the test pressing and we can roll slowly forward. Your patience is estimable.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

My nice life


I am cooking dijon pork chops, asparagus and rice for my family's dinner tonight. My son is practicing his trombone in the living room; my daughter is doing her reading assignment on the couch in the den so she won't have to worry about doing it after gymnastics. My wife is still at work at the job she loves. Tonight, I have a rehearsal with the Well Respected Men.

I love my nice life, and I just wanted to share that with you.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Dennis Linde - Under the Eye


So you know how sometimes you get the feeling you're finally going to find the one thing you've been looking for forever on this very day? You've looked high and low, bypassing the obvious eBay route where it lies, overpriced and miles away. You've gone to every store at least twice, asking the snotty clerks who neither know who you're talking about nor care a fig. Months of this behavior can make one feel desperate or even a little crazy--does it still exist? Is it as good as I remember it being, or am I delusional? 

When you finally do run across that copy of Under the Eye, Dennis Linde's 1977 release on Monument Records, you stifle a little yip for fear that the hippie guy at the counter might hear you in time to add another number to the left of the price. Because the price is SO right, especially considering what the record goes for on eBay. 

Today was that day.

Dennis Linde, as you likely know, wrote "Burning Love," recorded by Elvis Presley, the King's last top-ten hit. He wrote "Christmas Eve Can Kill You" by the Everly Brothers. Dennis also wrote "Goodbye Earl" that was a Dixie Chicks standout cut. And he wrote and co-wrote dozens of other songs for country artists like Alan Jackson, Roger Miller, Arthur Alexander and Billy Swan, none of whom had any problems writing great songs of their own.

Under the Eye was an album that came into my life courtesy of the cut-out bin at the Musical Maze record store in Manhattan. With its bizarre cover featuring an outsized old-style fuse hurtling toward Earth, the album didn't exactly cry out as a natural listen. But the first song on side one was "Down to the Station." Linde's version of his B.W. Stevenson hit. Just didn't sound like anything I'd heard before, not even B.W.'s take; it was full of little tweaky sounds, tiny funky guitars, cheesy synth bass, loads of backing vocals. All of these things made me sit up and listen. And I loved it. I played that song over and over again, absorbing the minutiae. 


The rest of the album was as adventurous and dizzying: "There Goes My Heart Again" had a celebratory, nearly bombastic chorus; "The Good Ship Rock and Roll" was an anthem in search of a larger audience; his take on "Ghost Riders in the Sky" was nothing short of insane.


As with so many of the records I collected over the eons, Under the Eye and a couple of the other Linde solo albums I'd collected disappeared. Probably either in a big purge before a move or possibly as a Katrina aftereffect, all I know is it was gone. Then the turntable was no longer a part of my stereo systems, and no Linde records ever made the leap to digital, unfortunately. (When I become king of the world, I will make sure that some sort of anthology by Dennis Linde will become available as one of my first beneficent acts.)

I've spent the last couple of years waiting for this day, and I'm happy to report that Under the Eye is still the breathtakingly weird and wonderful experience I remember it being. Linde died almost ten years ago, but his music retains the maverick goodness that made it so fine in the first place.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Labor Day


My family is spending the Labor Day weekend at Pine Knoll Shores, NC, an island community between Atlantic Beach and Emerald Isle, that boasts a big old oceanside hotel called the Clam Digger Inn

I think it's safe to say that it's been many years since any renovations have been made here, despite coming under new management at the start of the summer; that's a mixed blessing, I guess. The bathrooms are starting to pull apart at the seams, the acoustical tiles are sagging with 'atmosphere' and other guests seem to be dining mainly on Miller Lite, judging from what they were hauling up the elevators last night. It looks like the hot tub is where most of the action is going to be, judging from the clientele and various Yelp reviews of the place.

But at the same time, the lobby and restaurant are sort of charming, with a 60s suburban den sort of decor, which is to say 'dark wood-panelled to the nth degree.' Seafood is served Calabash-style (meaning 'battered and fried' I think, and named after a town in NC), and if you're in a big hurry to be somewhere after supper, forget about it. The food comes when it and the server are good and ready. There's also a bar here in the building somewhere, but I've yet to see it.

And we come for the sand and the water anyway. The fears that Hermine would be potentially wrecking our time here have abated with the bright sun and tide. Only one question: when did it become acceptable to bring your portable speakers out to the beach, to serenade everyone in earshot with Today's Hot Country? Doesn't work for me, sorry. The waves are the music I most want to hear here.

I managed to throw my back out right before we left Durham. So I've been hobbling around on my great grandfather's cane, living on ibuprofen and half-cut iced tea. I'm trying not to spoil the vacation for anyone else, but it has put something of a crimp in my enjoyment of the beach proper (hard to negotiate sand with a cane, I find). But that's okay, there's reading to be done, and I'm truly digging A Pound Of Paper: Confessions of a Book Addict by John Baxter, in which guitar-god-turned-antiquarian-book-dealer Martin Stone plays a pivotal role.

Pine Knoll Shores is just down the island road from Salter Path, where my parents owned a house for many years. It was a sweet little cinderblock rectangle, painted bright yellow, and my parents loved going there to fish and shell and generally relax. It had three bedrooms, a living room/kitchen area, a bathroom and a tiny screened porch that looked out over the Atlantic. They finally sold it when it became too much work to keep it up--the stairs down to the beach were inevitably thrashed and trashed by hurricanes, requiring rebuilding every year; and renters were often inclined to leave damage or messes or take things that belonged to us. 

Every year, my dad took pictures of the house from every imagineable angle, and every year, the encroaching condo world of Pine Knoll Shores loomed larger and larger in the background. 

That was probably the last place my mom and dad regularly left home to visit. I never got to spend as much time there because the time that they owned it was mostly after I was out of the house and in the throes of early adulthood.

We drove down Hoffman Beach Road on our way in yesterday to discover that the house was still there, albeit upgraded significantly. It's been extended in both directions, and there's even a garage built on in front of the old garage. It appears that the previously unmowable yard gets mowed with regularity nowadays.

Part of me wishes I could go say hello to whoever's there, but I sense it'd be a renter and I'd freak them out and invade their privacy, so I won't. But it makes me happy to know that our little bungalow has lived on in spite of the build-up of the whole island. My parents would be pleased as well, I think.

I wish you all a happy Labor Day weekend, and I hope it's as sweet as ours has been so far. We get to make our own memories and relive some old ones, too, even if we have to hear the lilting tones of Luke Bryan from a few chairs down the row...


Friday, September 2, 2016

Stand Against HB2 Finale - Cat's Cradle - Carrboro NC - November 6

In the words of George Sanford, "it's the big one." 

Make plans to attend now. We need you.

The final concert of the Stand Against HB2 series will be held November 6 at Cat's Cradle in Carrboro, NC.

General admission is $15 in advance, $20 at the door, with all proceeds going to help EqualityNC.

Here's who's playing:

The dB's.
The Fabulous Knobs.
The Love Language.
The Veldt.
Foxture.
Henbrain.
Pre-Raphaelites.
Olsen Twins.
My 3 Sons.
Happy Abandon.
Onward Soldiers.
Blue Cactus.
the grand shell game.
Matt Phillips & the Back Pocket.
Pinto.
Brett Harris.
6 String Drag.
Tres Chicas.
Robert Kirkland.
Rod Abernethy.
Ur Mom.
Orlando Parker, Jr.

Follow this link for the Cat's Cradle event page with individual band links.
Follow this link for the Facebook event invitation--because I'm not on there anymore, please feel free to share it in my absence.

Follow this link to donate to the Stand Against HB2 GoFundMe page, because it would help a lot, too.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Stay on the rails no matter what

Apologies to the constant reader of this blog who silently passes months while waiting for me to get it together to write something (and to everybody else). I could say 'life got hectic' or something similar, but I've just gotten derailed from my regimen. School's back in for my effervescent children, so I will do my utmost to stop being like Tootle and stay on the rails no matter what.

No single yet. Technical difficulties continue to haunt progress. We do have a beautiful video filmed, thanks to the talent and graces of Dan Andrews and Mike Allen. As soon as there is vinyl in hand, we'll release this striking work that will accompany "Don't Mention the War." 

I got to be 'stick singer' for two songs at Be Loud Sophie 2016, the fantastic charity working to support adolescent and young adult cancer patients and their families at UNC Hospitals. Earlier in the afternoon, the Well Respected Men did a short set; I came back 6 hours later, and the party was still going on! Lots of local faves on that set of great tunes: Tim Smith, Mac McCaughan, Greg Humphreys (who smoked everyone with a powerful Hobex set)..."it's just stars after stars after stars"... I sang "A Million Miles Away" by the Plimsouls and "Dance Hall Days" by Wang Chung (!), and the audience seemed to dig it quite a lot; I never know what to do with my hands when there's not an instrument in them, so I played shaker egg with nervous energy on Wang Chung and gesticulated constantly on the other. 

I have made a conscious decision to get off Facebook. The amount of time and emotion I had tied up in my existence there was absurd. I will miss having contact with my many friends there (although I'm still available on FB Messenger and may have to maintain a 'music page' of some sort), but I'm getting off my ass and doing something instead of drowning. And I don't think I'll miss at all the uncivil and abusive political discourse that's accompanied this year's presidential campaign; my pulse rate has already subsided considerably. 

On a sad note, my sweet friend Monty Lee Wilkes died this past weekend from unconquerable cancer. Monty was The dB's soundman/tour manager for years, part of a fabulously successful career, working with so many different artists for years--everyone got Monty's best at the board, a formidable sound artisan. He had a snide wit, a good/bad attitude and loved his rock music; he made us sound better than anyone else ever did. We roomed together, poring over fashion magazines and microphone test results, using gallons of hairspray and listening to everything from the Shaggs to EZO. It was probably the easiest touring we ever did in that band, thanks to Monty's competence and spirit. The last time I saw him was when Hootie was on a festival lineup with the artist he was mixing, Lisa Marie Presley. Monty got to do it all, and he did it all so well. He will be loved and missed by his friends and family. 


Photo from Suburbs Archives

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Recap, Wrap-up, Catch Up - Well Respected Men, Peter Holsapple with the Forryst Bruthers, Little Diesel, Baron Von Rumblebuss

Little Diesel
Photo by Ed Speas
L to R: PH, Bob Northcott, Will Rigby, Phil Thomas, Tommy Eshelman

Sorry, I got sorta behind here. Gigs, gigs, gigs! Let me start by saying all of the shows over the past couple of weeks have been just wonderful, reaffirming for my return to music. Hell, I nearly feel professional, even!

1. The Well Respected Men - The Garage, Winston-Salem - June 25

The Well Respected Men
Photo by Laura Hart
L-R: PH, Glenn Jones, Jeff Hart, Andrew Snee
The mighty Kinks kover band opened the Near Strangers' album release party at Winston-Salem's Garage, a club that's defied the odds by staying open for years in a town that doesn't make that an easy thing to do, for some reason. The Well Respected Men played Kinks favorites for an hour to an appreciative crowd, including some who decided they'd dance, which is always gratifying. The celebrants' band, fronted by Lee and Susan Terry, sounded excellent, what little I could stay for. They have sweetness and soul in abundance. The new Near Strangers' album, Echo Reverse, is a worthy addition to your already overloaded record collection, so go forth and get it.


2. Peter Holsapple with the Forryst Bruthers - Millennium Center, Winston-Salem - Stand Against HB2 - June 26

My first foray into the fray with the new ensemble. The Forryst Bruthers, a standalone bunch of pros, took time from getting their own act together to serve as my accompanists. James Wallace and Mark Simonsen, both of whom you know from these pages as the producers of my new single, are Bruthers, as are Aaron Oliva and Evans Nicholson, and the four of them have a tight-but-loose sound that seems to complement my tunes nicely. So we practiced a few of 'em and headed down to Winston-Salem for Stand Against HB2. I'm pretty sure the folks in the audience enjoyed the set, which was followed directly by Winston's own Luxuriant Sedans who are what a blues band can sound like with arrangements and rehearsals and no reliance on long jammy jams. 

3. Little DieselMillennium Center, Winston-Salem - Stand Against HB2 - June 26
 
Little Diesel
Photo by Florence Dore
L to R: PH, Will Rigby, Phil Thomas,
Bob Northcott, Tommy Eshelman
If anything might have overshadowed my first nervous performance with the Forryst Bruthers earlier in the afternoon, it was likely the first show by Little Diesel, Winston-Salem's first real garage rock band, in over 40 years. Bob Northcott, Will Rigby, Tommy Eshelman, Phil Thomas and I ripped through half a dozen songs from the No Lie album to a wildly enthusiastic crowd, many of whom were around for our first incarnation as R.J. Reynolds High School seniors in the mid-1970s. We even did two originals, our paean to the legendary skin-flick drive-in theater "Flamingo" and our theme song "Kissy Boys." We had so much fun we made plans to do it all again one day soon.

4. Baron Von Rumblebuss - Festival For the Eno, Durham - July 4 

Mush pit
My final performance as The Black Hole with Tray and Kathleen Batson's band, Baron Von Rumblebuss, took place on a soggy stage surrounded by mud and a raging Eno river. Despite the meteorological conditions, it was a bright and fun set of the brilliant kids music that Tray has been writing and recording. Mark Simonsen has been my rhythm partner in the band, and I will miss the locking we were able to accomplish together. The new BVR release Summer-Sonic is coming out this summer, appropriately enough, and we played a number of songs from it, as well as hits like "Did You See Where the Cat Threw Up" to a damp but appreciative audience. The band was joined by ace flautist Tim Smith, with whom I'd played in Hobex several years earlier.
L to R: Mark Simonsen, Tim Smith,
PH as The Black Hole
I have had a great time playing with the band, but it's gotten difficult recently to play bass because of damage to my left hand and arm from a fall a couple years ago that has not improved. So I'm moving along, but not without sadness and gratitude to Tray, Kathleen, Mark, Steve Carr and the late Matt Brown for being a part of a grand adventure for seven years.

5. Peter Holsapple with the Forryst Bruthers - Festival For the Eno - July 4

Photo by Kathryn Wall
After a few inspired tunes by the Bruthers, I took center stage for a set of mostly new songs. It felt just fucking fantastic to be doing a show with a band again. We had a couple small misfires, but overall, the tunes were handled with the appropriate care and feeding, and I think that the audience was happy to hear new stuff from me finally. It was a trial by fire in my own mind--"do I still have what it takes?" as my song "Game Day" says. Apparently, I do. We had a ball, and again, I hope to do more shows with Mark, James, Aaron and Evans sooner than later. They're busy lads, so we'll need to carve some space in their collective calendars. It felt right, it felt natural, it was a fine experience and I'm so delighted to have been invited to play at the Festival For the Eno.

"What, me worry?"
Photo by Kathryn Wall

L to R: Aaron Oliva, PH, James Wallace