Thursday, September 28, 2006

Save America Now! (Follow-Up)

Just a follow-up to the previous blog/bulletin that I sent out. When I called the offices of Sen. Martinez and Sen. Nelson, it was confirmed that TODAY (9/28) is the day that the Senate is to vote on (S. 3901 - Military Commissions Act) which, if made into law, will:

* Allow the President to detain people indefinitely without charges,
* Deny detainees access to courts to challenge their detention or their treatment.
* Create special military tribunals with reduced standards of due process
* Deny detainees the protection of the Geneva Convention's Common Article 3
* Allow the President to define torture

TOMORROW (9/29) is the date that the Senate is to vote on (S. 2453 - National Security Surveillance Act) which, if passed, will involve:

* The President can spy on you without a warrant
* You'll never learn that his spys have done so, until they use the information against you (legally or not)
* Your phone and internet providers can't refuse to provide information about you
* Or tell you they've done so after the fact

The beginning of the end of civil liberties, privacy, etc.

This article states that this past Tuesday was the deadline, but BOTH Florida Senators' offices confirmed that this vote is taking place TODAY and TOMORROW, so there's still time to make the phone call and voice your concerns about the passing of these two bills.

These bills will pass in the House, but we need to have as many votes against them as we can muster. This will help us in the Senate. Senate rules make it possible for us to stop these bills in that chamber. YOU need to make a BIG NOISE. And know this . . .

You won't be alone. We're working with more than a dozen national organizations to make this BIG NOISE.

We n eed to pull out all the stops. Please, PLEASE, pay close attention to these instructions. DO ALL FOUR OF THE FOLLOWING THINGS AS SOON AS YOU CAN!!!

1) Go to the campaign opposing warrantless spying: "No Warrant? No Search." Send a message to your Senators and your Representative. Tell them to resist in every way they can the combination of this bill with the Tribunals bill. Urge them to do everything in their power to block, stop, and/or filibusters this bill. And if it still comes up for a vote, tell them to vote NO, and that you'll be watching. The message to Congress for this campaign has been reconfigured to make this easy for you.

2) Go to the campaign opposing the new tribunals: "No Torture! No “Star Chamber Courts!" Send a message to your Senators and your Representative. T ell them torture is un-American, useless, and counter-productive. Urge them to keep the warrantless spying bill separate. Implore them to do everything they can to block, stop, and/or filibuster this bill. And if it still comes up for a vote, tell them to vote NO, and that you'll be watching. The message to Congress for this campaign has been reconfigured to make this easy for you.

3) We have a targeted list of Senators. If your Senator is on the list, it's urgent that you call and leave a message ASAP. Remember, this vote is scheduled for Tuesday. Tell them you're a constituent. Keep it short, simple, and polite. Make notes before you call. Make the points already made in #1 and #2 above. Here's the list . . .

Idaho - Larry Craig 202-224-2752
Rhode Island - Lincoln Chaffee 202-224-2921
South Dakota - Tim Johnson 202-224-5842
Louisiana - Mary Landrieu 202-224-5824
Michigan - Carl Levin &nb sp; 202-224-6221
Arkansas - Blanche Lincoln 202-224-4843
New Jersey - Robert Menendez 202-224-4744
Alaska - Lisa Murkowski 202-224-6665
Florida - Bill Nelson 202-224-5274
Nebraska - Ben Nelson 202-224-6551
Nevada - Harry Reid 202-224-3542
Maine - Olympia Snowe 202-224-5344
New Hampshire - John Sununu 202-224-2841

Remember, this is urgent. We're about to lose precious rights. We need extraordinary effort. So I want to ask you to do one more thing . . .

4) Tell everyone you know to do the same thing. Pass this message to friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, and customers. Maybe they'll think you're un-patriotic for opposing torture and for mistrusting politicians with such great powers. SO WHAT! And if you received this message from a friend, and it's not Wednesday, September 27, 2006 yet, there's still time. Act fast and then pass this message to everyone you know.

Keep in mind, you're not alone. And we can still win by blocking this in the Senate. The Senate is eager to get back home and campaign. Most observers believe they'll pack up and head home Saturday. Delay the vote and we may stop the danger.

Again, it's NOT too late! Make the call today. The system isn't so broken that it can't be fixed. America is not so lost that it can't be FOUND again! What's your future freedom worth to you? A couple of cell phone minutes?

Let Your Voice Be Heard NOW!

The madness has got to stop and we, as a nation, have the power to bring it all to a screeching halt. If hundreds and thousands of illegal immigrants can organize, walk off their jobs and flood the streets demanding change, the least we can do is make a couple of phone calls.

The U.S. Senate is RIGHT NOW debating over OUR future. (S. 3901 - Military Commissions Act) is a bill that will give unprecedented powers to the Executive branch; powers that will enable the President to arrest and detain indefinitely just about anyone in the continental U.S. - even legal American citizens. And that's just scratching the surface. Take a look at some of this bill's huge flaws:

Enemy Combatants: A dangerously broad definition of “illegal enemy combatant” in the bill could subject legal residents of the United States, as well as foreign citizens living in their own countries, to summary arrest and indefinite detention with no hope of appeal. The president could give the power to apply this label to anyone he wanted.

The Geneva Conventions: The bill would repudiate a half-century of international precedent by allowing Mr. Bush to decide on his own what abusive interrogation methods he considered permissible. And his decision could stay secret — there’s no requirement that this list be published.

Habeas Corpus: Detainees in U.S. military prisons would lose the basic right to challenge their imprisonment. These cases do not clog the courts, nor coddle terrorists. They simply give wrongly imprisoned people a chance to prove their innocence.

Judicial Review: The courts would have no power to review any aspect of this new system, except verdicts by military tribunals. The bill would limit appeals and bar legal actions based on the Geneva Conventions, directly or indirectly. All Mr. Bush would have to do to lock anyone up forever is to declare him an illegal combatant and not have a trial.

Coerced Evidence: Coerced evidence would be permissible if a judge considered it reliable — already a contradiction in terms — and relevant. Coercion is defined in a way that exempts anything done before the passage of the 2005 Detainee Treatment Act, and anything else Mr. Bush chooses.

Secret Evidence: American standards of justice prohibit evidence and testimony that is kept secret from the defendant, whether the accused is a corporate executive or a mass murderer. But the bill as redrafted by Mr. Cheney seems to weaken protections against such evidence.

Offenses: The definition of torture is unacceptably narrow, a virtual reprise of the deeply cynical memos the administration produced after 9/11. Rape and sexual assault are defined in a retrograde way that covers only forced or coerced activity, and not other forms of nonconsensual sex. The bill would effectively eliminate the idea of rape as torture.

Read enough? But WAIT, there's MORE! Tomorrow, the Senate will debate another bill, this one, (S. 2453 - National Security Surveillance Act), will allow the government to spy legally on us without a warrant and give Bush immunity for past spying Warrantless spying. It opens the door to so many egregious violations of the Constitution that it makes my head spin.

So, what can WE do to make our voices heard? Pick up the phone and call your Senator. Call the Republicans. Call the Democrats. It doesn't matter what your party affiliation - this affects all of us little people. I'm in Florida and I called both Senator Mel Martinez AND Senator Bill Nelson.

If you need the phone number of YOUR Senator's office, click here.

It only takes a few minutes. Be patient, the phones are ringing off the hook with people voicing their grand displeasure at this assault on the Bill of Rights! Be pleasant with the phone staff, they are just doing their jobs and aren't directly responsible for anything but delivering your message to the Senator. FLOOD the Capitol switchboards - let them know that you don't support these bills and that your Senator, whom YOU elected to represent YOU in Washington, should reflect the views of his/her constituency or plan to get voted out of office.

America was not founded on the principles of torture and spying on its own citizens. If you agree - make the call TODAY!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Casualties of Faith: Re-work

After recording a bare bones version of the tune, I put it on my iPod and took it to work, driving around and listening to it over and over again, noting what I liked and didn't like. Some of the lyrical rhythms I wasn't too stoked about and there were some different melody ideas that seemed more natural, so I recorded these into my cel phone and planned on doing a re-working when I got home.

I didn't change much - just a couple of the lyrics, which are in boldface:

one goes down in a hail of bullets
while another one gets the blade
one is hung from a tree in the village
a victim of the crusade
it was an early morning raid

wasted lives, ill-gotten gain
religion causing so much pain
I'm just sayin'


what we have in common
is the fallen world we live in
can't you see?
one piece of the puzzle
as we struggle
to get around all this hostility
how can the righteous assassinate
these casualties of faith?

Christian mobs burning homes of the Muslims
Indonesia is ablaze
In Africa, Muslim takes a gun, shoots a nun
which the extremists loudly praise
it never ceases to amaze

it could very well be you or me
falling prey to zealotry

I'm just sayin'


what we have in common
is the fallen world we live in
can't you see?
one piece of the puzzle
as we struggle
to get around all this hostility
using a prayer to intimidate
these casualties of faith


what in the world can we do to stop the killing?
how many murders must we grieve?
every side sees the other as the villain
their righteousness is stained with blood
slaying in the name of God


what we have in common
is the fallen world we live in
can't you see?
one piece of the puzzle
as we struggle
to get around all this hostility
by looking away, we participate
in these casualties of faith

Copyright © 2006 J.O.B. Entertainment Inc.

The changes in the bridge were mainly rhythmic - the words weren't flowing with the beat like I wanted them to, so I added some syllables to make it "roll" better. The outright change of the bridge's second half was due because it seemed too "wordy" - and I also liked the punch of this couplet better. Since it was similar to the second verse tag, I changed that so I wasn't duplicating sentiments.

Here is a rough demo - this is kind of a different piece for me and I'm really happy how it came out! I purposely did not record bass, as a fantastic performer I know has offered to lay down a track or two.

"Casualties Of Faith" (work demo)

For those dulcimer-players (and others) who are curious to give it a run, I'm tuned in DAA:

The verse and groove progression

E // A // G


A // C // Bsus4


E // G // A // G

E // G // A // C

E // G // A // G

E // G // A // C // Bsus4


A // G // E

Have fun with it - and when the next version of this demo is ready, I'll post it here to show you how it's coming along!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Casualties of Faith

I posted about the whole current Christian vs. Muslim "holy war" that's been exacerbated by the U.S. and Israel on my socio-political blog.

So, out comes this new song. I constructed this one a little differently than I normally do, laying out the chord changes first, then working out some simple melodies before really thinking about the arrangement and then finally, matching words with the melodic rhythms. The result is a working draft that doesn't keep changing around every time I sing it. Once I record the bedrock of the tune, then I'll feel comfortable with making changes here and there - but I wanted it to be easy to sing, at the same time that it's making its point. I'm recording a basic version today with dulcimer and a cool hand-drum that Jae brought back from the Dominican Republic, but here are the lyrics:

Casualties Of Faith

one goes down in a hail of bullets
while another one gets the blade
one is hung from a tree in the village
a victim of the crusade
it was an early morning raid

wasted lives, ill-gotten gain
religion causing so much pain
I'm just sayin'


what we have in common
is the fallen world we live in
can't you see?
one piece of the puzzle
as we struggle
to get around all this hostility
how can the righteous assassinate
these casualties of faith?

Christian mobs burning homes of the Muslims
Indonesia is ablaze
In Africa, Muslim takes a gun, shoots a nun
which the extremists loudly praise
it never ceases to amaze

don't you find it rather odd
that they're killing for God?
I'm just sayin'


what we have in common
is the fallen world we live in
can't you see?
one piece of the puzzle
as we struggle
to get around all this hostility
using a prayer to intimidate
these casualties of faith


what will it take to stop the killing?
how many murders must we grieve?
each side sees the other as the villain
and the so-called righteous continue to fight
in the names of the Gods they believe


what we have in common
is the fallen world we live in
can't you see?
one piece of the puzzle
as we struggle
to get around all this hostility
by looking away, we participate
in these casualties of faith

Copyright © 2006 J.O.B. Entertainment Inc.

I could've worked the Israel/Palestine situation into this, but the song was specifically inspired by the recent spate of killings inflamed by the Pope's comments on Islam. I'm not taking any sides - those who are doing the killing are wrong, wrong, wrong.

Friday, September 22, 2006

8 SSA Award Nominations!

The Songwriters Showcases Of America recently opened the voting booths for their annual SSA Awards and I'm both humbled and pleased to announce that I've been nominated for 4 awards:

Songwriter of the Year
Creative Writer of the Year
Male Vocalist Of The Year
Lyricist of the Year

Mohave has been nominated for 4 awards as well, including:

Band of the Year (an award we took home in 2005)
Most Unique Style Of The Year (an award we took home in 2004)
CD of the Year
Band Frontperson of the Year

The public can vote here and award recipients will be announced on November 4th at the Deland Original Music Festival, which I'll be performing at. (Mohave is still on sabbatical)

Thanks to those who made the nominations! It's always an honor to be recognized for doing what you love and, once again, we're in great company. So vote and then come out to the festival in November for a great selection of independent music!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Darkness Is Falling

Key West - May 2006
Originally uploaded by dreadmon.
I've gotta fight on if I'm gonna make it
try to keep the victory in sight
the devil's out to get me, I'm shakin' in my shoes
when I'm losin' the spiritual fight

I cry, darkness is falling

-- Bryan Duncan (1985)

Sometime around the mid-80's, I met Bryan Duncan, a powerhouse Christian singer who was formerly lead singer for the band Sweet Comfort. He had just released his first solo album, called "Have Yourself Committed", a totally smokin' piece of work that I bought based off the strength of the single "Darkness Is Falling."

I was backstage at a Christian music night at Knott's Berry Farm in California, where I worked at the time. I'd hang out during these events, making myself available as a roadie for the bands that I loved and wished to know better; groups like Undercover, The Lifters, Steve Taylor and Some Band, Daniel Amos, Crumbacher, Mad At The World, Adam Again, Youth Choir, The Lifesavors and many more. I was in a Christian band called Teacher's Aide at the time, but we were nowhere near good enough to be playing a big event like this, but certainly hoped to somewhere down the road. So, I'd come to enjoy the concerts and then zip behind-the-scenes (knowing all of the employee entrances sure helped) to help lift and move gear. This put me right in close contact with the bands I adored and emulated.

At one point, I'm standing there talking with someone, I'm not sure who, and up walks Bryan Duncan, smiling, sashaying, if you will. He's a funny guy on-stage and apparently that went for in-person as well. Whomever I was talking to (the memory was obliterated by Bryan's presence) greeted him, and then the soulful singer, without missing a beat, turned to me, took my hand and gave it a good shake, then proceeded to faux-arm wrestle with me wordlessly. I honestly don't think we exchanged more than greetings. It was just a humorously odd bit of interplay - and then he was gone.

That's my Bryan Duncan story.

This moment popped into mind because I was sort of reminescing about some of the old bands and looked him up on the web, found him to be doing quite well with a new act called Bryan Duncan and the NehoSoul Band, which plays the same kind of smokin' stuff that he's so good at. Further research revealed another site that featured an interview done at a critical time in Bryan's career that I was unaware of; a time where he almost stopped making music.

We talk about some of the "casualties" in the Christian music scene over the last couple of years, and I confess to Duncan that I don't really understand why Christian artists can't be more transparent.

"I think they don't do that because it'll cost 'em," replied Bryan. "It's meaningful to somebody to stand up and say, 'I made a mistake,' but leadership positions don't like to hear that. It makes them less trusting of you, a little more suspicious if you admit to any faults."

It immediately struck me that I was led to seek this page out for a reason.

My Own Darkness Falls

every word I say is wrong, and I'm
feeling like I don't belong here
took a shot at a long time dream
and put a bullet in my self-esteem

well, it's kinda funny, I forgot to laugh
too busy trippin' down the wrong damn path
what do you do when your heart gets burned?
consider it a lesson learned the hard way
and all the while I'm hoping, praying

raindrops swell the river
carry me away
drown within the ocean
of tears that fall today

-- Bing Futch (2006)

It was about this time last year that the previous Mohave line-up began to splinter and crack; it was apparent that tensions amongst the band were getting high, and for what it's worth, I take my share of responsibility for that. There were many different ideas of what the band should be like, but they all began to stretch away from the vision that was given to me back in 1999. That vision graciously allowed for just about any style of music, as long as it told a story and tied in to the mythology surrounding Nowhere, Nevada. As time went on, however, it became more and more about "rocking it out" and marked a departure from our Americana-flavored songs that were really the core of what the Mohave concept is all about. A lot of it had to do with my frame of mind, which had begun to get intense as internal clashes and personal issues began to color the music. It really struck home one night after a performance in Daytona Beach. Snackdaddy lead singer/guitarist Ed Altom was talking about the show and said, "what's going on with Mohave? The songs are sounding a little dark."

Well, that hit me - because he was right. We were playing less of songs like "Floatin' Wally" and "L'ermitage" and doing more socially-relevant tunes like "Planet Earth" and "So Alright." I realize now, as key songwriter, that much of this was funneling straight from my own heart and into the music. Supressing it wasn't a great idea - but neither was changing the flavor of the true and inspired vision that had been preserved for over six years. Suffice it to say, when we went our separate ways in October of 2005, I decided to be still and let the still, small voice tell me what to do next. Through the winter and spring, it became clear: let Mohave be Mohave and let Bing be Bing. They would have to be unique entities.

Shadows In The Glass

I consider myself a Christian, albeit one with an open-mind. That said, I've done some pretty nasty things in my life and have struggled for many years with the inner darkness that all people seem to harbor. Some are better at dealing with it than others. I suck at it, frankly. Much better than I used to be, but instead of truly dealing with the darkness, it seems that some kind of valve inside has simply shut off, not only cutting off the flow of negativity but also some of the positivity as well. My coping mechanism has been to numb down, to become withdrawn and distant, something that's not readily apparent when you meet me in public because I'm a naturally happy and accepting person; I love people.

And I also fear people. I fear that people will get to know me and observe my wickedness, judge me, declare me a super-sized loser and then abandon me like so many others have done. Forgiveness, as it would seem, does not come easy to most folks. On the contrary, I'm usually the first to say "no apology necessary" when someone admits to doing me wrong, the first to extend an olive branch, the first to embrace enemies with a hug. This imbalance has created a resentment within that's been festering for awhile and I have a queasy feeling that it won't be easy to whap down with a baseball bat. My emotional constipation, a result of too much smack down, daddy issues and a whopping case of arrested development, is threatening to shut off the flow of reason. It's made me cold and left me dry. My sadness goes unexpressed; my fury is on an ever-increasing boil and who am I furious with? Myself.

How can I fix it if it won't break? There's something wrong inside of me and I've prayed to God, "break me!", but no break has come. Or if it did, I missed it. But how could I? Bryan Duncan, on September 18th, 2001 wrote these words about the attacks on America:

I've thought about why God allows evil in the world. I think maybe because pain is our only wake up call. Our own suffering seems to be the strongest motivating force in the world towards change.

What is wrong, exactly, that I want to change? I'm tired of being numb in places, that's what's wrong. I want feeling back. I've gotten so used to swallowing my pain and putting a smile on it, thinking positive and not letting anything get me down, that my systems are all fucked up. (I know, not a very Christian thing to say, but that's a whole other discussion that I'm unwilling to have at this moment. I wish to communicate honestly, and honestly, the word "fuck" comes to mind.)

The ironic thing is, I think I know what needs to be done, and God won't do it until I make the first move. Well THAT SUCKS but so be it, I was hoping for, you know, a lightning bolt or kidney failure or a 16-ton weight dropped upon my head, but it looks like I'm gonna have to face my fear, drop my pants, rip the shirt off of my back and get naked before everybody (and it ain't like I haven't done it before - well, at least literally.)

I can't play it safe anymore. I haven't the strength to smile through tears that never come. I've got to be brave and I've got to trust that forgiveness exists and that vulnerability isn't a weakness in this hard, hard world.

Returning To The Days Of Wide Open

don't forbid me to dream, my friend
the only shelter I have rests within my mind
and it shouldn't be hard to find another land
where everything is well
and I'm never dangling at the end of a rope
wondering what was left of hope

-- Bing Futch (1991)

Thanks for reading this far, by the way - just writing this has been therapeutic. Those of you who have followed my music since back in the day know that my older stuff was alternately hopeful and depressing; I wore my heart on my sleeve. Somewhere along the lines, that got bitch-slapped out of me and I removed myself from the music, writing in the third-person, telling stories instead and keeping the focus away from my own battles. Mohave is a universal funnel for ideas, emotions and encouragement that is a gift from God - it will always exist for the purpose of reflecting the image of a society cast adrift in the middle of a dusty wasteland. It will always be fun, always ever-changing and always devoted to the music of the world's people.

But the time has come, and has been coming, to start up the solo machine once again. Taking the music back to a personal level before these moving parts inside tear my soul to shreds. I've been meditating on the concept, so it's just plain weird that I run across Bryan's page today and read that bit about relating the negative aspects of your spiritual walk. I hesitate to go there again, but it's imperative that I do. I worry about Mohave taking a hit if people respond badly to this forthcoming outpouring of bile and blackness (and not all of it will be dark, rest assured - but quite a lot of it will be.) The world is changing - and hopefully, we all change with it, retaining vitality and moving forward. The only way to heal is to be wounded first and I pray time and time again for God to break me, break me, break me in half, spill my guts upon the asphalt, drain me of the blood that has curdled into sand, burn away the scales from my eyes, cut the razor wire from around my heart; please. Let me feel all the emotional seasons again, bring them to the surface. I want to cry. I want to scream bloody murder. I want to laugh. I want everything but the fear. That's one thing that I don't miss. Never was much good at fear and hope I never will be.

I do not know how long I've been asleep
all I know is I'm awake within a flash
the thing that I have feared most is happening
and I'm helpless within its grasp

I try and stop it
but all the effort is in vain
there is no turning back now
so just bring on the pain

and it hurts
oh God, I had no idea
my ragged breaths draw fire
I cry until I cannot feel
I cry myself to sleep

first, the shock of impact
and everything breaks free
all that I have come to know and trust
has come crashing down around me

broken sounds drown out the sirens
dimly wailing warnings in my head
I'm blinded by the agony
and the waterfall of tears that I now shed

and it hurts
oh God, I had no idea
my ragged breaths draw fire
I cry until I cannot feel
I cry myself to sleep

oh here it comes
the pounding drums
here it comes
the blanket numbs

and it hurts
oh God, I had no idea
my ragged breaths draw fire
I cry until I cannot feel
I cry myself to sleep

I do not know how long I've been asleep
all I know is I'm awake within a flash

-- Bing Futch (August 2006)


Let it be said that I'm a very, very blessed man. I have a beautiful and loving wife (who I get to pick up from the airport in an hour - yay!) My children are growing strong and smart. My friends are true. I live the life that I dreamed of back at Knott's Berry Farm, who can ask for more than that? I have hope and I have music. Now, to add to the list, I have let go. I know that I am not in control. In the words of a recent country song, "Jesus, take the wheel."

And ram this sucker into the nearest concrete light pole.

Friday, September 15, 2006

New Music

Jae's away in the Dominican Republic, spellunking and whatnot, so I'm left to fully burrow into a musical coccoon. I tweaked "Before This Moment Passes" and have been sort of floating the new one around as "Unless You Fall", because it speaks to the songs theme of continuance.

New Demo - "Unless You Fall" or "The Song Formerly Known As 'Before This Moment Passes'"

Then, I've been messing around with this other song for a couple of months, slowly sort of cooking it. Now, I'm a pretty zen guy - Jae thinks I'm too laid back sometimes and that I hang out somewhere desperately close to "passive", but this wasn't always the case. Everybody's got a dark side; how we deal with it is what makes us the kind of person we are. But without getting too deep, I'll just say that when frustrations or stress start to build up, or something in this world-gone-mad simply pushes me over the edge and I get sort of psycho-crazy, thank God for the outlet of music.

So, I've channeled my sort of angst into this piece called "Rust" and I've just worked out the vocal tracks and dulcimer inserts today. It's a raw thing and it's actually what I set out to accomplish, which is always a nice surprise.

Whisper to a scream. Just all the stuff going on recently. The obvious government politicizing of 9/11. Lebanon getting pounded by Israel. Thinking about mortality and what we do with our lives while we're here, if we know how long we've got. The words have all sorts of meanings that were intended to have many different interpretations, but ultimately, the song speaks to God, in whatever form or format you wish to acknowledge such a God, and simply begs for another chance on behalf of humanity.

I built the song up so that it increases in intensity the further it goes along, no conventional song layout, verse, chorus, etc. It just sort of vamps along on one theme in a major key, then cranks into another series of minor changes over a relentess back groove. I like chants - they're like prayer. In the prayers at the end of the song, the melody and harmony work together as a choir. Just before the lead dulcimer solo kicks in. And yes, that is all dulcimer.

"New Music: Demo for "Rust"

Ashes to ashes
dust to dust
paper to fire
steel to rust

fragile bodies
broken stone
pieces of the past
we never walk alone

sky of anger
raining black
on the heads of the hopeful
one shot, maybe never come back again

riding with the wind
go out with the tide
see you somewhere, my friend
on the other side

we came, we saw
we built it up
and tore it down again
once so asleep
and now awake
taking every moment in

we fell, we cried
and hit the ground
bled sweat and sweated blood
had faith in every saving grace
stood fast against the flood

won't you give us one good prayer
won't you shed some light in there
won't you understand my circumstance
won't you give us one more chance?

won't you let us get it right
won't you let us try
won't you steal in from the night
won't you give us one last chance?

complete 9/10/06

Copyright © 2006 J.O.B. Entertainment Inc.

It's time for a memory upgrade - it's next to impossible to EQ these songs once they get over twenty tracks in size. I go to record with the gear that I have, not the gear that I wish for.

The vocal tracks are rough, some of them very rough. But hell, like y'all haven't heard me sound like ass before. My theory this is: the more often you show your ass, the less of a surprise it'll be when people see it. Ya heard?

"My theory this is"? {Insert Yoda joke here.}

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday to my lovely wife, Jae!

I'm seeing it's you
I know that I do
I'm feeling it too
I know that it's you

I can't live my life without you

Have a wonderful day, baby!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Work, Work, Work

I'm swallowing dulcimer for breakfast, in the middle of Orlando, Florida. A lot of grits to be had.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Practice Makes...Sore Fingers

But you won't hear me crying; bring on the blood.

There has been a dulcimer on my lap most of the week, just pounding away at a couple of tunes that I'm trying to learn. One is "Song For George", an Eric Johnson tune. Butch Ross began teaching it at Kentucky Music Week this summer, but we only made it through the first four measures or so; it's a tough nut. Especially if you're usually a strummer and not a picker. It's bendy and slidey, tremolos and cross-picking runs, all in a fairly relentless series of notes that just steamrolls ahead. Drive you batty.

It took me two freakin' months to get the first part down, then I got disgusted with the pace and just slammed into working it out this week. This piece works out fingers that I don't normally use, so it's a might painful. But, it's memorized and I can play it through. If only I could make things like that happen in the rest of my life. Just gotta get past the bruising.

But each day, after my eyes would start crossing, I'd go into "write" mode and begin working up new material. For whatever reason, I decided to fool around in TablEdit some more and ended up working out a short suite for dulcimer called "Garden of the Gods." Eventually, I see it having four parts, arranged for dulcimer along with baritone, bass and soprano dulcimer, or dulcimette, so it's going to be a work-in-progress. But, and wouldn't this be dreamy?, ultimately, I'd love to have it performed in the Garden of the Gods at night, with the rocks lit up, for a concert. Wicked. Well, God willing. We'll start with a MIDI file first.

Anyway - first draft, only one part, basic themes and motifs throughout. Download it while it's hot, because I'm not archiving these - just replacing with more current versions. The .mp3 file will be MIDI. Also, the .mp3 is lacking the accel. and deccel.

"Garden of The Gods" (A Suite For Dulcimer)

.PDF | .MP3

Bill Buffington Drops A Line

So, up in Kentucky, I was told to begin hunting for a Bill Buffington. Everyone who knew about him said that he was making these wild dulcimers that I would probably get a kick out of. So who emails me this week? Out of the blue, even.

He still makes these nice-looking babies (I think I just saw some more money fly away) and they come ready to rock.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Tis Only Faire

Only Faire (.pdf)

New Software Rocks

Up at Kentucky Music Week, Stephen Seifert showed me a cool software program that he had on his laptop. Called Transcribe!, it's an utterly amazing creation that analyzes your audio files and isolates the frequencies that make up music, which allows you to transcribe music with unbelievable ease. I knew this was going to come in handy.

There is also a notation program that's legendary called TablEdit, which I've had in a demo version for some time, finally registered and unlocked all the features - it's twisted. Just wicked, twisted software; and the combination of the two is really apalling. Disgusting. I love it.

There's this piece that I've recorded called "Tis Only Faire", which was an improvisation, so I didn't have music and couldn't duplicate it by ear. I mean, maybe I could've tried, but the rush to make it happen didn't become apparent until these two programs sort of ran into each other. It took some doing, but now I have a pretty faithful publishing of "Tis Only Faire" which I'm in the process of converting from the .tef file to a .pdf., for those who don't have the program, although there is a free .tef viewer available from the site, which lets you really enjoy how cool the program is.

This is going to help tremendously, at least until I can get back to school. In the meantime though, it will help as I start working on the curriculum for my DAA workshops.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Rocky Mountain High Pt. 7

No alarm clock was necessary. Wakefulness came bright, early and once again accompanied by hummingbirds just outside the open window. Mindful of the fact that I'd be going straight from the Garden of the Gods to Soda Springs Park for the 11:15 a.m. set with Robert Force and Bud Ford III, I wore something different than the day before, packed Angelique into the backpack case, grabbed the video camera and wished Rick a happy Sunday. The weather was brilliant; cobalt blue sky, wisps of light clouds here and there. Daytime was fairly crackling with a vibrance that seemed ultra-real.

Stopped at the Sinclair station and got a blueberry muffin and a cup of coffee. Decided against setting the coffee cup on the floorboard between my feet and opted to cruise along slowly towards the Garden, holding the cup gingerly in my left hand, which also held the handlebar grip. The wind chill factor was right brisk for an early morning scoot and the coffee was doing wonders, along with the huge flannel that I had borrowed from Rick. Rode for about a mile and then decided that riding with coffee was a hellaciously stupid idea; stopped and swatted the rest of it down. That was gonna kick in quick.

This early in the morning, the tourists had yet to stir and the winding roads of the Garden were mostly empty, save for a handful of die-hard you-name-its. Joggers, cyclists, bikers. Not many, just enough to have a sort of communion. The nods or smiles or greetings that are exchanged as you drift through the magnificence of natures big ol' footprint. It's an acknowledgement; we're all here because of this. There's unity in appreciation. But mostly, it was open road and the Vino flew like a hummingbird, darting this way and that in the 20 m.p.h. zones at around ten above that. Stopping only to be knocked-out by some incredible new view that shouted to be photographed.

The previous day's explorations had revealed what I knew to be the spot that I'd return to. On the east side of the park was an overlook that offered a commanding view of the Gateway. Riding up a bit of rise in the road, twisting upwards to the left and then you're smack in the middle of this panoramic view. It's enough to put anyone's brake lights on.

In the previous day's divining, I'd been led to a spot just west of the overlook, by Pullout number 9, where I scrambled up the mountain, through the ground-dwelling prickly pear and assorted scrub, to a clearing that afforded a view of the Gateway in all its glory.

Unpacking Angelique, I set out food and beverage, got all good and stretched out, then sat and ate breakfast and let the energy of the place infuse me.

And then, after putting away my trash properly to be disposed of later, I sat back on the backpack case (which made a most rewarding seat in all of the rocky red soil) and started playing.

I'm not sure how long I played. But at some point, I became aware of the need to hop back on the scooter and roll into town. Which I did, with a big fat smile on my face.

I arrived at the back of the stage and parked next to the Vespa that Robert was borrowing for the weekend, walked around the side of the pavilion. The morning gospel set was in motion, still the first act. Chilly Winds would be up next, followed by what was billed as a Dulcimer Jubilee "Bing Futch" "Bud Ford III" "Robert Force" et al but we had taken to calling it Bud a Bing Bud a Bob after Bud blanched at the idea of calling it The Bud III 3. Personally, I like F3, but that sounds more like a button on your keyboard than a dulcimer band.

The three of us came together by the rear of the pavilion and sort of tossed around basic concepts. Robert and I would play standing with the dulcimers strapped to us, plugged in to cube amplifiers with a moderate level of effects; Bud would use a microphone to amplify the dulcimer and stand at a stationary place with the instrument on a stand. We'd start with "Wellyn" and then, all bets were off. Having seen glimpses of this throughout the weekend, it was clear that the audience wasn't sure what to expect, but some had been asking about it. The seed had been planted, apparently.

Again, can't wait to see the video. This time, we had a three-way ballet going on, with Bud and Robert leading off on some of Robert's old tunes and my contributions leaning in some rockabilly rave-ups and one extended jam of a song that was like something you'd hear on a smooth jazz station. It was all over the map and more fun than a week at Walt Disney World. At one point, Robert and I both went over to Bud and were all jamming around him. Not a moment of it rehearsed, complete with stage leaping and Robert playing dulcimer behind his head - all I know is, it was more fun than I've had onstage in a long time. Big laughs and smiles all around and the audience really showed their enthusiasm for it. That's the biggest blessing of them all, isn't it?

Yes it is.

At this point, I had seen all the performers and enjoyed their sets. Unfortunately, there was a flight back to Orlando with my name stamped on it in the late afternoon and I still had a Dulcimer Shop to tour. I was already missing the little place, this little bubble of beauty high up in the Rocky Mountains. But one of the high points of this journey was still ahead, so there was no time for tears.

Bud Ford unlocked the door to The Dulcimer Shop and lead the way through the store to the basement where production actually took place. Bud III brought up the rear.

"Watch your head," Bud Sr. said as we descended a short flight of stairs. The Ford's are diminuitive folks, making some areas of their custom working space hazardous to the moderately tall. With a slight stoop, I followed along with twinkling eyes, taking in the layout of the room. It was like Santa's shop! Bandsaws and buzzsaws and sanders and grinders and long things on cords with vacuum ends, stacks of raw wood and whole tree trunks, the sides and fronts and backs of dulcimers in progress, hanging about and resting in clamps and jigsaws. The fluid beginnings of guitars rose from out of the machinery, some bare and others glistening like wet seals. Bud Sr. moved from item to item, describing what it did and at what stage the dulcimer or guitar was at. I saw patterns for futuristic solidbody electrics and a very special machine that etched patterns into wood with a laser! After demonstrating the laser with a piece of scrap wood, I had decided that a person could get lost in such a place and never come out. Essentially, that's basically whats happened to Bud Sr., who didn't go looking to get into the dulcimer-making business, but found himself there anyway.

Now, Bud III is learning the craft from his father, though the elder seems somewhat concerned with the future of a family tradition that began over 30 years ago. Bud III wants to play music and tour and you can't blame him. Every musician should do it once. The grass roots experience of performing for audiences in many different parts of this country and, if you're really blessed, the world. I'm hoping to see it all come to fruition. That Cripple Creek Dulcimers will continue for another 36 years along with another 25 for the Mountain Music Festival. I'm hoping to see Bud III get his music going on a fast track to the touring circuit and I hope to share the stage with him at points along that route. Sharing the music is one thing, but sharing the dulcimer is another thing entirely. There's something about this instrument that's very much like Manitou Springs, Colorado. It's got its own magic, its own way of sneaking up on you and making the connection and it's got its own unique community, always looking for one more to come aboard.

I packed my stuff, set it aside, thanked Rick profusely for being an amazing host, then motored down to the park to make the scooter hand-off. Goodbyes were said, connections reaffirmed, blessings given and received, and then Erin Ford swept me away to the airport. She's grown up in the town and sees where it's beginning to change. Change is good, but some things should always remain. There's value in tradition, if it's balanced with progressiveness. The trick is in finding the balance.

And you have to drink a lot of water, breathe a little deeper in the Rockies, if you're going to stand up straight.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Rocky Mountain High Pt. 6

According to Bud Ford III, The Mariner pub used to allow smoking and on some nights, you couldn't even see the person next to you, that's how bad it was. Since banning smoking, he said, the place has been a lot easier on the senses. With a vaguely pirate decor including a torn sail and mast that juts across the ceiling, The Mariner wasn't exactly expecting the flotsam and jetsam of a folk music festival to traipse down the street and pour into their establishment. Members of all the bands, along with a few others who had been lurking around with instruments, began to gather near the narrow stage where the karaoke nights take place.

And they made music.

And the acoustics were really very good for this sort of impromptu jamming. As more and more people made their way into the small pub, the musicians took turns playing songs.

And it ran the gamut, from old folk to hippie 60's. I'm sure the bar staff were stoked, because it was right about that time that everyone pretty much started getting their party on. I'm not sure that I've ever seen it that loose and funky at a folk festival.

There was not a real good chance of being heard above that many guitars and a stand-up bass, so I joined the jam a few times, just to have some fun in that energy space, and there were little holes in the fabric of the music where I could actually rise up and be heard. The songs, especially "Take Me Home Country Roads", were such a great selection of crowd requests and picks amongst the players. Some of the regular patrons were a little dismayed to find that what they termed "Hee-Haw" had invaded their Saturday night space. They should be so lucky. It's not every night you get to hear a real banjo.

One by one, some of the devoted festival audience began to leave, and then some of the musicians, slowly diminishing the jam circle, but not tamping down the spontaneous fire of the spirit flowing through their instruments and bodies. The smiles that multiplied throughout the bar, the folks on the fringe sitting with their backs towards the rest of the pub, facing the action by the karaoke stage. It was informal, standing around, not even on the stage itself. Only the bass player had plugged in, and even that was low as to merely suggest the bass in that section of The Mariner.

The day had started early for me and the sudden effects of the high Colorado altitude was having its gradual way. Vowing to not party too hard, I sat down at the bar with Bud III and ordered some local brew.

Bud III is an interesting guy; we hit it right off. Besides having a love for the mountain dulcimer, both in its traditions and its many possibilities, he's also a fan of the movies "Tron" and "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension", not to mention he's one of the few people I know in the world who remembers the theme song to the Knott's Beary Tales ride at Knott's Berry Farm.

Welcome one and all
y'all come have a ball
things are very fine
riding on that old Knott's Berry Line!

We're gonna work that up somehow, someway.

Our jamming sessions were very fruitful. He's a great dulcimer player with a great ear for arrangement. I could see working with him in a duo, both of us are looking to push towards the next level and we like quoting lines from Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy. Besides that, he's a sweet spirit and real nice guy, which makes it a joy to just hang around with people like that.

More and more people hit the wall and took their leave until just a handful remained, so deep into the night that it became "last call" which then cut power on five of the songs I had left in the jukebox. Foo. So I motored through the quiet, empty streets, feeling the bracing cool air buffeting my face. Down a slope, up a street here, up towards Casa de Laurenzi, park the Vino in the garage, head inside, visit with Rick for a little while and then spill into bed, filled with thoughts and visions, music and memories of the day, swirling around inside of my being, saturating the soul, melting in with the flesh. Absorbing the real and the not-so-real as it's presented through art, conversation, observation and meditation. To hear the still, small voice, you have to be smaller and quite still. In mile-high country, I had already come to the mountain. But tomorrow morning, after rising naturally, I was going to climb.