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My and John's band: covers, originals, freak folk.
READIN started out as a place for me
to keep track of what I am reading, and to learn (slowly, slowly)
how to design a web site.
There has been some mission drift
here and there, but in general that's still what it is. Some of
the main things I write about here are
listening to (and playing) music, and
watching the movies. Also I write about the
work I do with my hands and with my head; and of course about bringing up Sylvia.
The site is a bit of a work in progress. New features will come on-line now and then; and you will occasionally get error messages in place of the blog, for the forseeable future. Cut me some slack, I'm just doing it for fun! And if you see an error message you think I should know about, please drop me a line. READIN source code is PHP and CSS, and available on request, in case you want to see how it works.
Here is a song John and I recorded last night, a medley of "Drowsy Maggie" and "Dancing Barefoot" -- we've been working on this for a few weeks and played it last week at the Menzel Violins open mic. I'm pretty happy with the way we've integrated the vocal melody with the fiddle melody.
Oh and here is another song I recorded recently that I'm pretty happy with:
This is a Leadbelly song also performed by Hazel Dickens (and many other artists), but the version I learned it from and which I always think of when I hear it, is my friends' band Other People's Children, Liam and Malcolm.
John and I had a great practice session last night, recorded a bunch of practice takes of tunes -- including a new take of "The Ballad of Hollis Brown", which I have put into the Hitchcock-heavy mix in place of the messy old take of that song. (And the mix is no longer "random"... oh well...)
Big news is, our band has a name now! We are Mountain Station, named after the train station near my house. (As John said, cool -- now all we need is a banjo player and a bass...) Here are some other cuts from the practice last night:
Medley of "Windfall" and "California Stars" (Purely spur-of-the-moment -- I kept thinking "Windfall" sounded like some other song I knew... At first I was thinking "Broke-Down Palace"; turned out to be "California Stars".)
John and I have our first track playing on the radio! Tune in to Henry Musikar's always-great music rotation at KCUF and you will (every so often) hear our cover of Gillian Welch's "Revelator." Here is the track if you don't want to wait:
Well out of a year and a bit of jamming together, John and I have put together something worth listening to (IMO obviously). You can download our demo tape from box.net if you'd like to check it out. (Click the "Download Folder" button to get the tape as one big .zip file.) Streaming here:
"Highway 61 Revisited" by Bob Dylan (with a bit of fooling around with the lyrics from yours truly)
"NJ Transit" by Jeremy
"Dancing Barefoot" by Patti Smith
"Revelator" by Gillian Welch
"Shady Grove," traditional
"California Stars" by Woody Guthrie and Wilco
"St. James Infirmary," traditional
Mountain Station is John Hicks on guitar and vocals, Jeremy Osner on Stroh fiddle and vocals. Follow us on Facebook to see new songs when we record them, and works in progress...
Update -- I am thinking with this post I'll be taking a brief hiatus, a couple of weeks. Thanks for reading, those of you who stop by regularly -- I'll be back, just want a little time off.
Please help us find our audience! If you are reading this post and you like the music, I would greatly appreciate links back, from your blog or your rss reader or Facebook, whatever. Help get the word out...
John and I have been tossing around Don Dixon's "Praying Mantis," playing it now and then for most of the time we've been jamming together. We're thinking of it now as one of the songs to play at the next open mic we play -- here's a version of it we recorded tonight:
Me and John played our first show this afternoon! We were one of the featured groups at Michael Locker's Songwriters' Circle, at the Crossroads in Garwood -- there were five acts playing rotating sets of three songs apiece, we were on stage three times for a total of about 40 minutes of music -- way more than we've played before for an audience. (Sparse to be sure, but still.) Our set list:
"Red Red Overalls" by Jeremy -- this song gets a little better and a little faster every time we play it.
"Japanese Radio" by John and Jeremy -- we were extremely loose on this song and having a great time. We had never really worked out the arrangement with any precision and ended up not being sure, at a lot of points, whether we were going to go into a verse or a chorus or an instrumental -- but somehow it worked really well.
Many thanks to Holly Hughes for introducing me to The Kinks' song "Lost and Found" -- I had never heard it before today, and boy is it a beautiful song. So John came over this afternoon and of course we had to try and work out a cover version of it... It is as John says "a little too perfect" for today.
How did we do? Well... I am by no means any Ray Davies. But I think what we came up with after a couple of takes is starting to sound pretty good. See what you think:
Notes: I need to sing it a step lower I think, or something. It was very happy-making, successfully to modulate to a new key at the end of the song though -- I don't think we've ever actually done that before.
John came over tonight and we had some fun playing songs we did not know... It was a change from our practice routine because John had left our songbook in Andrea's car, so we did not have words and music written out, so we just jammed on a bunch of songs that we have not played before. Highlights included "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" (which I find incredibly fun to sing but do not have much of a fiddle part to), "Harvest Moon" (which turns out to be really easy to come up with a fiddle part for), "When the Ship Comes In" (fast, with lots of instrumentals -- not sure what song the instrumentals were from but they seemed to fit ok), "Banks of the Ohio" (dedicated to Martha -- again, a lot of fun to sing, not sure what I should do instrumentally), "Rolling in my Sweet Baby's Arms," "Frankie and Johnny." Also, "Long Black Veil," and a medley of "Odds and Ends" into "Johnny 99."
The fixed fiddle sounded all right. It was going out of tune more than usual, which I put down to the new strings; the tone is clear and even and the volume is there. An irritating buzz I had noticed in recent weeks is gone -- not sure if that had anything to do with the bridge.
posted evening of October second, 2011: Respond ➳ More posts about Fiddling
The Studio 12 open mic at Tapastry restaurant in Montclair is a great scene -- based on my and John's experience there tonight it is one of the few open mics I've ever been to that I would invite non-musician friends to... A really friendly crowd and a lot of good-to-great music. We played a 15-minute set, a pretty satisfying length of time to be on stage -- our set list:
Running to Stand Still, medley into Arms of Love
Meet Me in the Morning
Drowsy Maggie, medley into Dancing Barefoot
It sounded from on stage like we were doing very well. John taped it on his Zoom, so we'll see how that comes out -- maybe we'll post some clips.