Friday, April 29, 2016

R.E.M. Mountain Stage 25th Anniversary

(L-R, Stipe, Berry, Mills, Buck--and Holsapple, just out of the frame, of course)

It was brought to my attention by the esteemed Adam Harris that it was 25 years ago today that R.E.M. performed on Mountain Stage in Charleston, West Virginia. We played in front of a live audience for the radio broadcast, but we played a lot longer, and it got really fun. We had our friends Billy Bragg, Robyn Hitchcock, and Clive Gregson & Christine Collister with us as well. If you weren't there, and many were not, here's a link to the show in its entirety best as I can reckon...and if you can patiently scroll through to 1:12:27, you'll hear me and the lads kicking out a healthy version of "White Train," something I'd forgotten entirely that we did. And here it is on video at about 21:05.

Set 1 

01. World Leader Pretend 
02. Radio Song 
03. Fall On Me 
04. It's the End of the World As We Know It 
05. Half a World Away 
06. Belong 
07. Love Is All Around 
08. Losing My Religion 
09. Dallas 
10. Gov. of WV declares REM day 
11. Radio Song (redo) 
12. Disturbance at the Heron House 
13. Low 

Set 2 

01. Swan Swan H 
02. White Train (Peter Holsapple, vocals) 
03. If You Go Away (Robyn Hitchcock, vocals) 
04. Bird's Head (Robyn Hitchcock, vocals) 
05. My Youngest Son (Billy Bragg & Michael Stipe, vocals) 
06. Hello in There (Billy Bragg & Michael Stipe, vocals) 
07. Dark End of the Street (Billy Bragg, vocals) 
08. Pop Song 89 
09. Get Up 

Chicago - quick question

A question to my Chicago area friends -- would you come to a house concert of mine in early July, around the time of the FitzGeralds festival?

Just putting the proverbial bug in your ear...

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Old tapes

I feel like Winthrop Paroo today, although it's for USPS that I await and not the Wells Fargo wagon.

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. 

Over the next couple of weeks, Keith wrote me of his various experiences with my tapes, including letting me know he'd gotten his 388 from songwriter Paul Craft's widow (he wrote "Keep Me From Blowing Away" and "Dropkick Me, Jesus"). The 388 even blew one of its 35-year-old fuses; Keith did intrepid detective work and troubleshot from the Tascam manual. He finished the transfers up, some requiring a -20dB recalibration for my hot (read: recorded stupidly) levels on a couple of songs, and then he sent the box out.

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

Good rockin' last night

Had a swell time at Heyday Guitars for my solo show in Winston-Salem last night. It was a comfortable room, and it was probably the best place to be if I broke a string, which I did not do.

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

Saturday's show - another reminder!

Yo, Twin City friends, Saturday night is my 'house concert' show at Heyday Guitars at 414 Brookstown Avenue in Winston-Salem. You'll have to follow the link here to buy advance tickets because there will be no walk-up tickets available.

Hope to see you there!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Getting close...and a show!

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.