08/29/22 - I just uploaded to Bandcamp another song from "American Gothic", the new album I'm hoping to complete by late November. This one is sort of the heart of the album. It's called "3 Feet From A Vein (Seldom Seen Slim)". It will be officially released on all streaming services on September 9th. "American Gothic" is morphing and changing by the day; I guess all collections of music (are we allowed to call them albums anymore?) do this morphing thing. "A.G." wants to challenge me more than other albums did; equipment stops, the computer crashes, parts disappear. It's getting weird. In the middle of singing a line a weird lower octave appears in the vocal (it creeped me out so I was able to remove it). I'm using more modern techniques on this collection while keeping a foot in the Old West and I'm starting to believe this thing is haunted. The mix on "3 Feet" was an exercise in sonic whack-a-mole.
The subject of "3 Feet From A Vein", Seldom Seen Slim, was a prospector who lived by himself in a ghost town for 50 years called Ballarat in Death Valley. He spent his life working in the depleted silver mines, hoping for the big strike. He lived in each building of the rotting town. He loved his solitary life and became somewhat of a legend. There are other songs out there about Slim that are just... well, I'll remain kind. In this song I wanted to spend some moments with Slim as he leaves this world and journeys to the land where it rains mezcal. Angels sit vigil with him until the Mother Goddess calls him home.
The next song I release will probably be either "Miracle Water" or "When Johnnie Comes Marching Home".
07/31/22 - it looks like the new album will be titled "American Gothic", based on where the songs are going. It seems to have an overarching theme of "America Gone Wrong"... sort of an expanded version of "Mojave". The original "Carnivals" idea will be incorporated into the album - it was just too small a concept to stand on its own without becoming a bit "musical theater" . There are a number of tracks in varying degrees of completion. "Devil Whammy" is the latest single (see the Spotify player at the top of this page) and is a dance song about dancing with the devil. It's a silly little romp and I hope you like it!
Other songs so far include:
1) "3 Feet From A Vein (Seldom Seen Slim)" - about a now-famous Nevada prospector and his last moments, angels welcoming him home. It's a tearjerker with a huge, almost Pink Floyd ending, complete with a boys choir.
2) "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" - definitely not the old Civil War song. I'm waiting on lyrics from Hunter for this one. A real spooky mid-tempo number, no idea what it's about yet.
3) "We Are The Falling Rain" - it's one of a few songs that are venturing dangerously close to political commentary. Fascism is loudly rising in America and this song is from their point of view. I released a version a few months ago that was sadly undercooked - I was too eager to release something. It will eventually be a large sounding thing, maybe the first song on the album once I get it right.
4) "Where Are You?" - featuring the exquisite Hunter Lowry and a warped caliope. This one is already out there in the world and is on this page to scare you. Enjoy!
5) "Miracle Water" - a pile of junkyard percussion - it has sort of a church revival sound to it, with the preacher hawking his miracle water (and the miracle pail). Beware the miracle water...
6) "Coming Together (Falling Apart)" - years ago I started writing songs that were in three different keys and three different time signatures at the same time. If you hunt, you can probably find one of them from years ago on the internet somewhere called "In Slo Mo". "CT(FA)" will continue that dizzying concept, but with more banjos.
7) "Under The Bridge" is just a rhythm, bass and tremelo guitar thing at the moment. More found-in-the-wilderness percussion stuff - the final track will probably have a "Sister Ray meets Sonic Youth" feel. Noisy, but with an Americana flavor. Not sure what it's about yet, but something not wholesome.
Other tracks under consideration include:
8) "The Spirit Moves With A Strong Back Hand" - an outtake from the "Stories and Songs" album. Think "Stairway to Heaven" in 4 minutes with a 30 member gospel choir. I just can't sing the damn thing - too many wildly soulful singers all over the place making my voice whiter than it already is. I'll figure this one out at some point.
9) "I Have A Dream Of America" - an outtake from "Mojave". Another political song. It starts as a proud, aspirational, hymn-like rouser, all freedom and apple pies, that turns ponderous and by the third verse the lyrics are from the diary of John Wilkes Booth as he ran from the law. I came close to releasing it during the last presidential election, but I was afraid of any potential backlash, or it eventually being used by the wrong people. It's message is a little too subtle for modern America.
10) "Come Fields Of Green" - an outtake from "Mojave" that I released about 7 months ago. Gothic horror with a hurdy gurdy solo. The song ends with a reading from Edgar Allan Poe's "Lenore".
11) "We Carry On" -a "Mojave" outtake, which was going to be the opening song on "Mojave". I just couldn't get the vocal right. One of the more country-ish things I've done. Sort of Charlie Rich / Dwight Twilley.
12) "Ticking Away" - another "Mojave" outtake and another song that was almost the album opener. It starts with a mandolin/portuguese guitarra duet, similar to the beginning of "Maggie Mae" by Rod Stewart, then turns into rather theatrical tune (think early Peter Gabriel) about blowing up like a bomb. Stress!
More songs are coming too. These are the ones that are formed to some degree. The album wants to be more sinister than "Mojave" and it wants me to find ways of making psychedelic sounds with banjos, jugs and dulcimer. Some sections sound very back porch Georgia, some sections will sound very NYC.
Anyway, that's it for now. I hope you enjoy the two tracks at the top for now!
04/11/22 - Several new songs for "Carnivals" are progressing, although they are being very fussy about their clothes. We just came back last week from a week of shooting video in the Nevada desert for several videos. Right now, we're working on videos for "Down The Ravine", "You Never Really Know", "Like A House With Broken Windows" and Hollywood Trax hired us an intern to get a video going for "The Perfect Storm" from the first Dark Americana album. Here are some shots from the video shoot:
02/24/22 - When I was young, my family would spend all our summers on my grandfather's farm in Arlington, Wisconsin. My mother grew up on that farm. My father asked for my mother's hand on that farm while he was an Ensign and my mother was a WAC during World War 2.
For a kid from Long Island, the trip through five states in our family station wagon was pure adventure. The trip took three days back then - the five of us would sleep in the station wagon, once dad found a big truck stop to park for the night. Mom and dad would sleep in the front seats and my brother, sister and I would jam ourselves in the back, flipping down the back seat to make just enough room for us. I would look out the back window at the large parking lot lamps and listen to the large semi trucks drive in and out and past the truck stop; the high whine of their engines getting lower and quieter as they drove away. It was probably not everyone's happiest memory, but to me it was magical.
Once we reached Wisconsin, we would stay on Grandpa's Wolff's farm (my mother's maiden name), Along with being a farmboy for a couple months each year, a big highlight was also the carnival that would set up on my Uncle Gordy's land every year in Madison. Along with rides that are still seen in parking lot carnivals today, there was also a sideshow, with those incredible painted warnings on canvas, detailing the horrors of nature and man inside for $1. I never had the guts to go into the sideshow (and knowing my protective mother, she probably wouldn't (or didn't) let me. It haunts me to this day; what was in that tent? Was the gorilla man/beast real?
As of now, "Carnivals" is about that period of my life - when everything was bursting with wonder and danger. I expect the new album to be complete in late 2022 and will hopefully give you the willies. For now, have a listen to "Where Are You", which should give you a hint of what's to come.