It’s the day after Thanksgiving! This means you are either still in a food coma, or your reading this whilst standing in a Black Friday line. Whatever the case may be, I hope you had a great turkey day. I worked on Thanksgiving day and had a rather questionable free meal. Can’t complain, though, because it was better than what I could make myself. Hooray for free food!
So anyway, I remember when I saw this trailer… I said to myself, “Self? The damn movie is correct!” and I was surprised by its honesty:
Well, I think that trailer holds true for 2015. If there is ONE movie I MUST see in 2015, it’s THIS:
Holy crap in a bag with fries and a Coke!!!!! Friggin’ Jurassic. This is how I looked after seeing the trailer for the first time…
As of this writing, I’ve watched it about 10 times now. Is this teaser trailer any good? Well, it doesn’t hit me like a ton of bricks… I think my excitement over the movie outweighs the trailer… but the fact that there IS a trailer now makes the whole thing real. Does that make sense?
I’ve been such a Star Wars nut my whole life. Pathetic as it sounds, I actually have a NEED for this story to continue.
I often drop by the neighborhood Bulldog pub for a little something to wet my whistle. This could be something as simple as a glass of water, or as advanced as a glass of water WITH ice.
Some excellent artists usually pass on through the pub, especially on a Wednesday night. I’ve seen performances by local artists like, Sheyna Gee, Don’t Kick Jimmy, Billy Reed, and some yahoo named Thomas Lee (Oh, wait… he’s awesome… I NEVER miss his sets!). One particular night, though, was something on another level.
Robb Strandlund was there.
“Who’s Robb Strandlund,” you ask?
He’s written a song that you most undoubtedly have heard: “Already Gone” by The (frikkin’) Eagles.
Here’s a reminder of the song:
Yep. You’ve heard it before… and chances are, you’ve sung it at the top of your lungs before. I know I have, multiple times.
So I met Robb Strandlund. So. Jurassic.
To top it all off, I heard him perform “Already Gone.”
To top THAT off, I heard him sing some more of his original songs.
To top THAT all off, I got to talk to him for a while.
To top EVERYTHING off, I picked up his album with a song that punches me in the gut like how Bruce Lee would if I said to him, “She IS one of my own!” (you’ll have to watch The Dragon to get that joke).
“Mama’s Guitar” is a must-listen. It’s touching, it’s poignant, it’s reflective, and it’s a tribute to not only Robb’s mom, but the guitar that has been his constant companion since the day he was conceived. The guitar is a (I hope I get this right) 1931 Martin. Only FIVE were made. Ever. Robb informed that the Martin guitar company has already reserved the rights to this guitar when Robb’s time on this world is done.
That’s one hell of a guitar. Here’s Robb performing “Mama’s Guitar” at the Bulldog. Unfortunately, I wasn’t fast enough with my phone and picked up the song at the second verse…
Here are the lyrics:
MAMA’S GUITAR IS BATTERED AND WORN
THEY TELL ME SHE BOUGHT IT BEFORE I WAS BORN
SHE SANG AND SHE PLAYED IT IN SMOKEY OLD BARS
AND THE FIRST SOUND THAT I HEARD WAS MAMA’S GUITAR
THEY SAY IT’S A MARTIN AND SO VERY OLD
THAT I’D BE A RICH MAN IF EVER IT SOLD
NOW MONEY CAN BUY YOU A HOUSE AND A CAR
BUT MONEY CAN’T BUY YOU MAMA’S GUITAR
HER VOICE WAS AS PURE AS THE NEW FALLIN’ SNOW
AND THERE WASN’T A SONG THAT SHE DIDN’T KNOW
SHE NEVER GOT FAMOUS SHE WAS NEVER A STAR
BUT THAT DIDN’T MATTER TO MAMA’S GUITAR
SHE TAUGHT ME TO PLAY IT WHEN I WAS JUST FOUR
I SCARCELY COULD HOLD IT AND MY FINGERS GOT SORE
ONE DAY I DROPPED IT YOU CAN STILL SEE THE SCAR
THERE’S A FEW THOUSAND MEMORIES IN MAMA’S GUITAR
HER VOICE WAS AS PURE AS THE NEW FALLIN’ SNOW
AND THERE WASN’T A SONG THAT SHE DIDN’T KNOW
MAMA SHE’S GONE NOW BUT SHE AIN’T GONE THAT FAR
SHE’S ALWAYS HERE WITH ME IN HER OLD GUITAR
MAMA’S GUITAR IS BATTERED AND WORN
Robb keeps his mother’s guitar in a case that is military-grade. I guess this case is usually made to house bazookas or something. You can drive a semi over the damn thing and it won’t get a scratch.
You can pick up his album with this song on it here.
Here’s a pic of Robb and his beloved guitar:
You never know who you’ll meet in Upland. Lesson to be learned: GET OUT OF THE HOUSE! But when you do, be sure to change out of your scrubs!!!!
Thanks to Sheyna Gee for getting my butt over to the pub that night. I owe you one, my friend.
If I haven’t said it once, I’ll say it twice… I love doing these Frontloader Sessions. Not only does it give me a chance to meet and record an artist that I totally dig, but at times it allows me the opportunity to hear their music in a different format than what they normally perform it in.
A fine example is the session with Treble Down.
If you recall, I wrote about Treble Down here and described their music as, “blistering psychobilly/punktry/metalarky.” Their mix of blues, rock, and pandemonium grabbed me immediately. They just released a new EP (pick it up here). I highly recommend taking a listen. Powerful riffs, grooves, and the vocals of Melissa Salas is something to behold.
And they were in my living room! How Jurassic is that????
Now, as I said before, Treble Down is great example of hearing a band’s music in a different format. When I first contacted them about doing a session, they noted how they had never done an acoustic performance before, but they were up for the task and would be ready. So on a cold November night, guitarist Tyler Anderson came with a resonator guitar in tow. He stated that the resonator would give the music the “bite” that an acoustic guitar can’t. Very cool, indeed.
For this session, I believe I used everything I had in the studio… every track was taken up, every cable was used… I was literally at the limit of what I could do. Believe me, I was thrilled for this challenge. The bass ran direct into the board, and the resonator was mic’d and also ran direct. Since drums were involved, I needed to make sure each instrument was separated/isolated. I gave Melissa the Shure Beta 87a to sing through, and in order to get as “live” of a feel as I could, I put up room microphones to get the sounds swirling in the room.
After all the levels were set, I hit record and this happened…
First up is “Empty Bottle Blues,” a song that, to me, is about the depths a person can fall to when clinging to addiction. Love it when Salas sings, “hit me agaaaaaaaain…” Totally dig.
“Empty Bottle Blues”
Up next is my personal favorite track off the new EP. I wrote about “Devil at My Door” before and how it can show you how to “kick ass” at anything you do. I still believe that to be true, as I am now listening to the song and absolutely kicking ASS at this sentence.
“Devil at My Door”
Finally for this first part of their session is “How Far We Fall,” another track off the new EP. This almost-ballad shows another side of the band… it’s tenderly painful yet retains the gruff and strut of their musical style. I love the way Salas backs off the end of the chorus and sings it softly… I think it’s so effective in delivering the sadness of heartbreak.
“How Far We Fall”
I’d like to thank Treble Down again for coming to do the session. I’m glad they stuck it out with the acoustic performance, as it showcases the excellent songwriting. If it’s a good song, it doesn’t matter how you perform it. A good song will always rise to the top.
**** Be sure to stay updated to catch part 2 of this session! *****
Guess what I recently acquired for TheFrontloader.com? I’ll give you a clue that might help: it’s business cards.
Yes, I finally got some business cards (or “biz-c’s”), and to tell the truth, it makes me feel like I am now complete as a business. Isn’t that funny? Now, I don’t know how many of you are business owners, but there’s something about having a biz-c that makes me say to myself, “Ahhh… NOW I’m 2 legit 2 quit!”
I’d like to thank Mindy Milburn of Graphic Strike for designing these awesome new cards. I’ve been having fun handing them out to anybody and everybody. Yes, even the dog next door got one. Dog didn’t quite get what to do with it. Dog looked like this…
Anyhow, I bet Cathryn Beeks has biz-c’s. Who is Cathryn Beeks? WHO is Cathryn BEEKs? Now it’s my turn to look as confused as THIS dog:
Back in 2008, I wrote about Cathryn Beeks and her album, Desert Music. Go ahead and read it to remind yourself. At the start of the post, I you’ll see that I wrote, “Cathryn Beeks” is practically synonymous with the words “San Diego Music.” Well, that relation hasn’t changed, and if anything, it’s only getting stronger.
ListenLocalSD, Cathryn’s company, has been promoting local music since 2001. I remember standing with Cathryn in a San Diego bar one night when she told me her vision for ListenLocalSD. Now, here we are, 13 years later, and look at what she’s accomplished. Cathryn has hosted thousands of ListenLocalSD showcases for an even greater number of artists, and she has made one of the more difficult tasks every artist confronts incredibly simple: finding a place to display/perform your talents. If you’re an singer/band, visit the ListenLocalSD website, click on “calendar,” and you’ll see what I mean. Then you will thank the music gods that she exists.
For all of you music lovers out there that aren’t singers or bands, you’ll want to visit the website as well. Every Sunday at high noon, Cathryn hosts the Listen Local Show. This radio show is dedicated to the San Diego music scene, featuring songs and interviews with artists that perform or are currently touring in San Diego.
Last week, Cathryn contacted me and suggested that TheFrontloader.com have its own spot on her radio show. I said to myself, “Self? That’s pretty awesome,” and enthusiastically said yes. Then the daunting task of recording my voice befell me. People, it’s one thing to record yourself singing, it’s something entirely different recording yourself talking.
I swear it took me over an hour to record a one minute intro to an artist we had here on a Frontloader Session. ONE. FRIKKIN’. HOUR. Take a listen… you’ll find our spot at about the 1:45 mark. Don’t laugh. It’s more difficult to do than you think.
I don’t think I’ve ever done that many takes for a song. We here at TheFrontloader.com are excited to say that our spot on the Listen Local Show will be occurring weekly… like I said before, it will feature a performance straight from our Frontloader Sessions.
We are so proud to be associated with Cathryn Beeks and ListenLocalSD. Cathryn has given so many artists/bands their first gig, which will undoubtedly end up in their best-selling bio. How cool is that?
Check out ListenLocalSD. Dig it, share it, spread the word and support local music. They ARE the next big thing.
And now, if you will excuse me, I am going to spend the next hour recording my dorky-ass voice for the radio show. I’m telling you – it’s a LOT more difficult than it seems.
I know that many of you have $2.9 million laying around, so this will be of interest to you.
The house featured in The Godfather is up for sale. $2.9 million will get you one hell of a conversation piece. I have a conversation piece, and it costs way more than a paltry $2.9 million.
Yes, I own the friggin’ (Lego) Death Star.
It’s ok to be jealous. It really is. Just let it happen and you’ll feel better, I promise.
Now, what does the Death Star The Godfather house have to do with Eva & The Vagabond Tales? Not much, except that when I first heard their music, I thought of The Godfather. Last week I featured Eva & The Vagabond Tales (EVT for short) here and stated that they describe their music as, “Antique old-time melodies from the town on the side of the river.” If you took a listen to the included track in that post, the beautifully haunting, “Keep Me,” I’m sure you would agree and add that it reminds you of something European. Something French. Or Italian.
I loved their album, Letters From the Moon, and hit them up to see if they’d come in for a Frontloader Session. All the planets were aligned for me and they said, “Yes.”
So on a Monday night, EVT showed up to the studio and began dressing up the place to suit their vibe. I dug the look and told them they could do whatever they wanted to the place. Once everything was in place, we set about recording some songs.
I had never recorded an accordion before, so I was surprised on how loud the instrument actually is. I have an old accordion as well, but seeing as I suck at it, the volume I can produce from mine is nowhere as strong or as steady as the sound Ivan got from his. I thought it’d be cool to close mic the instrument and throw up a couple of room mics to see if I can get a bigger, more encompassing feel. If you’d like to really hear the results, I recommend using a pair of good headphones to listen to these performances. I’m rather pleased with how the audio came out.
For Eva’s vocals, I used a different microphone than from the past sessions. A Shure Beta 87a effectively isolated her voice without much bleed from the accordion. I know that many of you do not care what equipment I used, but I thought I’d throw that tidbit in just for myself. Eva’s voice soared beautifully above the instruments… truly a pleasure to record and mix.
One last thing – I didn’t realize how different a hollow body bass sounds. Al’s bass definitely sounded like a mix between a solid body and a big, upright bass. Loved it. I just might pick one up myself sometime.
First up was “Ladder to the Stars.” The opening accordion makes me want to break out my accordion and give it a go… but then I remember that I have no idea what I’m doing, and I absolutely do NOT want to embarrass myself in front of nobody.
It just occurred to me how messy the studio is looking. If you’ve been following these Frontloader Sessions from the beginning, you will recall that the shots used to be very clean with little to no movement. Now that I’m wandering around the band, you can see just how much I need to organize the studio. In the end, though, I don’t really mind because of this next video performance…
“Keep Me” was actually the last song recorded that evening, but I love the song so much that I wanted to post it immediately. Eva often says that she writes “sad love songs,” and if there ever was an example of that, “Keep Me” is it. When Eva hits the falsetto middle section, even Sherman can’t help but shed a single tear.
This video has multiple camera angles… something I’m really getting into while I’m making these videos. Messy studio or not, this performance hits me in the gut. I hope you watch this one because it’s one of my favorites so far!
Last up for now is “Goodnight My Darling,” the last track off their Letters From the Moon album. By the way, if you haven’t picked it up yet, click here. The percussion that Ivan does on the accordion is cool… he told me it’s “a crowd pleaser.” This uptempo sad love song is a great closer to the album and this first part of the EVT Frontloader Session. The ending leaves you yearning…
“Goodnight My Darling”
Thanks again to Eva, Ivan, and Al for taking the time to do the session. Their music is romantic, sad, hopeful, alluring, and altogether wonderful to listen to. I hope you enjoyed watching/listening to these videos as much as I had making them. EVT have some shows coming up and it looks like the last show will introduce some new members. Very cool. I’d love to do another session with this new line up!
**** Be sure to look for part 2 of this session ****
November 22nd- The Barkley, Pasadena, CA
November 25th- The Hip Kitty, Claremont, CA
November 29th- Back to the Grind, Riverside, CA (new line-up and special giveaways!!)
I’ve often wondered what exactly IS Rock ‘n’ Roll, and by gum, I just found out.
This video has been around for years, and I’ve probably shared it before through some version of this site (remember when I was on MySpace???), but it’s so worth seeing again because… well, let’s face it… THIS is Rock ‘n’ Roll:
HA HO HEE!!!!!!
Man alive, I love this guy! He rocks harder than sedimentary!
I’ve seen this video a number of times, yet I’ve never bothered to find the keyboard he’s using. I’m hoping I got this right… the thing is called Prodikeys and here’s a pic of it (as far as I can tell):
And lookit… it actually got some decent reviews on Amazon.com.
Drum machines and keyboards have a come a long way since the Prodikeys, but I doubt anybody can rock them like the guy in the video. I never got his name, so I’ll call him Mr. Rock ‘n’ Roll. He did, after all, teach me what REAL Rock ‘n’ Roll is.
I only got about 4 hours of sleep last night. Funny thing is, I’m wide awake right now and sure, if I wanted to, I could go back to bed… but I don’t want to because I’ve got tons of work to do.
“Tons of work?” you ask? “How much is TONS of work?”
It’s a lot. A whole lot. Like this much:
I would never use that toilet.
You’re probably wondering what that picture has to do with the amount of work I have, and the answer is nothing. What, you want me to make sense this morning? I only got FOUR hours of sleep last night, man!
Last week we brought you the first part of Brenda Xu’s Frontloader Session. I had mentioned how eager I was to post that session to you all because of the sound we captured that afternoon. Here is the second part of those recordings.
I have to admit that I have been listening to these recordings on a regular basis. The performances were top notch, and I’d like to think that was captured through the music. If you like what you’re hearing/seeing, you should definitely pick up Xu’s latest album, For the Winter. This record undoubtedly suits this time of year, but as Xu pointed out in this short clip, the record has a deeper meaning than the title suggests:
Very cool. If you’d like to read more about the making of For the Winter, check out this interview at UnsignedUnleashed.com. She explains the use of silence in her music… go read it after you’re done watching the videos!
“Snow” is a song that isn’t off the album. I could be wrong, but I don’t think this song is off any of her albums, so you’re in for a treat! Love the chorus… simplicity at it’s best:
Last up is a medley they play in their live sets. “Light Me Up” is a Xu original, while “Start a War” is by The National, off of their 2007 record, Boxer.
“Light Me Up –> Start a War”
I’d like to thank Brenda, Ben, and Kacy again for coming to do the session. I truly had a wonderful experience and will absolutely continue to listen to not only the recordings from this session but her studio albums as well. As of this writing, I don’t see any upcoming shows on Brenda’s website, so be sure to stay updated on her happenings through the links provided below.
Oh, and I had to share this photo… Sherman claims it’s not “photobombing” if it’s him. Whatever that means.
Dig it, share it, and be ready for more Frontloader Sessions coming soon!
Brother Sal describes his sound as “Whorehouse Gospel,” meaning that it resonates within all of us, the sinners and the saints. I’ve never heard it put quite that way, so you can imagine how curious I was to hear his music.
Sometimes it’s the mere description of the music that makes you want to listen. For example, I once read a band describe their music as, “the shit.” That made me take a gander at their songs and, as you can probably tell, they WERE “the shit.” I can’t tell you what happened to that band, but I can tell you that Brother Sal is here and now, and you should take a listen here and now.
I’ve been enjoying his album, the piano-driven Blood and Dust… it’s one of those records that you put on repeat and just let it play for hours and hours. The moods the record pulls out of you ranges from deep introspection to hope, joy, and the whole ball of wax. I guess that’s why I can play it for such a long time and not get tired of it. There’s blues, there’s soul, country, there’s dirt, there’s grime, and there’s a voice that you just trust.
It states in his bio that “he recently stepped into the hallowed ground of the world famous Sunset Sound studios to lay the next chapter of his story to tape in his upcoming album, The Other Side of Sin. But of course, for a working man like Sal, one new album isn’t enough. He’s also completing another full album, The Rise & Fall of the Hummingbird. And just in case two full length original albums aren’t enough for you, Sal is also finishing up two cover albums, Live at Sunset Sound and Midnight Whiskey Blues.”
VERY cool. There is no news on the current status of these records, but you can bet that I want to know when they are released!
It appears that Brother Sal is playing regularly at these venues:
Sundays & Thursdays
11pm – The Piano Bar
6429 Selma, Hollywood CA
8pm – Melrose Umbrella Co.
7465 Melrose, Los Angeles CA
Through his Twitter feed, he lists more upcoming shows on a regular basis. Be sure to follow him to stay updated.
Lately, I’ve been working on a project of magnanimous proportions… a project so huge and important, that it demanded every second of my attention and focus… a project that was so vital to my survival that, if I didn’t tackle it immediately, my world would collapse and crumble before my very eyes.
Yes, I was working on what my computer desktop wallpaper would be.
What? You scoff at this? You say, “Come on, man! That’s not important!”
Well, I scoff back and say to you, “Dude…” That’s it… because sometimes just one word can say millions.
I wanted something that said, “Power,” and “Wisdom,” and most importantly, “Friggin’ cool,” all rolled up into one. After countless hours of debate, I settled on this:
How cool is that??? You can find this one and other cool Jedi wallpaper here.
Now that I had completed that monumental task, I went back to listening to some awesome music out of Southern Cali. I came across Eva and The Vagabond Tales.
Cool name, cooler music.
On their Facebook page, Eva and The Vagabond Tales (EVT) describes themselves as, “Antique old-time melodies from the town on the side of the river.” When you take a listen to their music, you realize just how on-the-mark that is. Listening to their album, Letters From the Moon, I felt I was transported to old France, Italy, or somewhere European… I’m an amateur on those countries, but I think you’ll agree.
Singer Eva told me that she recorded the entire album at home, on her laptop, with a “cheap microphone.” As Darth Vader put it so eloquently, “Impressive. Most Impressive.”
My absolute favorite track off the album is the painfully beautiful, “Keep Me.” If you’ve been following us on Twitter (how come you’re not following us on Twitter???), you would have seen this awesome tweet:
Now’s your chance to hear this song that has taken over my stereo.
I’m listening to it right now as I type this, and it still breaks my heart. Love it. You can pick up the Letters From the Moon album here.
I’m going to sweeten this post and say that EVT just came in to the studio for a Frontloader Session. Yes, I was lucky to have them here to watch them perform “Keep Me” and a bunch of other tunes right before my eyes. If you’re following us on Facebook (how come you’re not following us on Facebook???), you would have seen some pictures from the session. They’re the first band to come in that brought along props and stuff to dress up the studio. Very cool vibe.
You can see in the picture there that even Sherman was included in the session. He was quite proud and didn’t demand much other than getting “more camera time than anyone else.” Good bear.
Their Frontloader Session will be coming soon, so be on the look out for it!
EVT have some November shows:
November 14th- The Lounge 22, Redlands, CA
November 22nd- The Barkley, Pasadena, CA
November 25th- The Hip Kitty, Claremont, CA
November 29th- Back to the Grind, Riverside, CA
I plan on being at The Hip Kitty show, so come on out watch me goob out.
If you’ve never seen me “goob out,” you’re in for a treat. I come prepared like a “gangsta”:
Every now and then I come across something that perks my ears, tilts my head to the right (which way do you tilt your head?), scrunches my nose, and makes me pull a Scooby:
Ok, that’s not Scooby-Doo, but you get the idea.
This is not a bad thing, mind you. Whenever I pull a Scooby, it tells me that I have found something that, to me, is unique… and unique-ality (I just made that up… dibs!) demands attention.
What are some unique things, you ask?
1) The TV show 24. Jack Bauer is awesome.
2) The Lego Movie.
3) A girl actually going on a date with me (hey-oooooooooh!!!!)
4) Blown Speaker Gospel
What? What’s that? “What’s ‘Blown Speaker Gospel?'” you ask? They’re a band out of Southern California with a sound that isn’t quite like anything else I’ve encountered out here. After hearing their song, “Pioneertown,” I knew I had to have them in the studio for a session.
It was a late Monday night when they arrived. Unfortunately, their drummer was not able to make the session, so we discussed how to go about arranging/recording the music. After a few practice runs, I hit record and began filming. I dug the odd time of the music. They didn’t keep everything at a straight 4/4, which is always cool to hear. I found myself trying to figure out what the time signature of the song, “Oceans,” was in… very interesting riff. That’s one thing I found so enticing about their music – it reminded me of an old band I was in… we always tried to make our time signatures weird so that, as we’d say, “people couldn’t dance to it.” As if anybody could dance to our music anyway! (Hey-oooooh!!!)
Anyhow, here’s “Oceans.”
I love the riffs within the song. I have to say that I was incredibly pleased with the guitar tone we got out of the Epiphone Dot guitar. They brought along an amazing Bogner amp that I secretly wanted to take out for a night of miniature golf, holding hands by the moonlight, and then perhaps ending with some smooching by a fountain somewhere… it’d be so Jurassic… I totally dug it.
Oh, I don’t know if you noticed this or not, but the “Oceans” video actually has multiple camera angles. Yes, I figured out how to do that. Pretty cool, huh?
Up next is actually the last song they recorded that night. If memory serves, they were going to call it a night when someone mentioned that since all the microphones and stuff was already set up, they might as well do one more song just for kicks. Since they’re the sort of people that would never back down from doing something “just for kicks,” they took a stab at “MLK” and got it in one take.
I absolutely love this song. It has a jazzy/bluesy/smokey lounge quality that came through much more in this acoustic version than the original studio recording. I was stoked that I got this performance as a part of the session.
Blown Speaker Gospel’s EP, Ritual Cave, is available here on iTunes. Check it out, pick it up, and share it with your friends. They have a couple of Arizona dates coming up in December. Check out their official site for more info.
Be on the look out for part 2 of this session coming soon and visit our Facebook page for pictures of the whole deal. Thanks to BSG for making the session so memorable. They’re a great group of guys and I hope they can come back with the full band. I’d love to record them again!