Friday, November 30, 2007

End of the Blog Posting Month

well i actually did it....i posted every day of November for National Blog Posting Month. It was hard some days but it was also fun to find new ideas for posts, and it was good to excercize my brain.

They made badges available for the end of the month celeb-log-rations. But like Julian Cope says, "Badges! Badges! We don't need no stinking bagdes. We're cissified and civilised, I want to be a savage!"

Ok so don't look at the right column of my page where i have my NaBloPoMo badge.....

Thursday, November 29, 2007

My birth home in Ashland, Kentucky

This is the house i grew up in, at least until i was about 9. This picture was taken about 6 months before i was born. Ashland is famous for The Judds (Naomi and Wynonna), and for Ashland Oil, which was a sponsor of the Gomer Pyle show. Naomi Judd occasionally babysat for my older brother when my parents had a house previous to the one i knew. The Judd family lived across the street from Ma and Pa at the time.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

la course de logan

Multi levels of kitsch! I could swear that Robot's lips were speaking a different language than French. Was this dubbed?

Phil's Poetry part 8

Rotary Carbuncle Rooner *

Climey Toad bought some detergent
brought it with him to the party
everybody ate some pickles
and then they all went dancing at the Sheraton

filled in his mind was
the name of a famous Governor
time healed on so slowly
that he found he was almost out of it

as the night wore on
he discovered he was making
more and more sense
additive like boysenberries
preservative more like common experience

Climey sought the secrets of young life
and by nightfall
the next volleyball game had just started

although he didn't feel he was missing much
he either felt left out
or maybe that others would feel
left out by his absence

big things were falling now
and Climey looked up from his toes
and noticed not only that
he wasn't dead but also that
things don't change much
from moment to moment

"urgh" he belched
thereby being reminded of the pickles

* title by Bob Crain

Monday, November 26, 2007

Tree: indoors

The Osborn halls have been decked.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

How tech should i be?

Got monitor, got keyboard, got printer. Got no PC just now. Must post from crappy phone.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

My record collection

I loooooove records.

Phil's Poetry part 7

This was inspired by Captain Beefheart

Open Nine to Deathbed

open nine to deathbed
aerial nerve gas precedes dawn rain
bat my eyelids!
went outside to brush
my teeth with a bic razor
and watch the moons fall
felt like a toadstool
pigeons on my lawn
grass growin' slow
and blowin' a blow
someone said to open the door so i did
bat my eyelids!
at my bilids!
mat eye libids!
tar me baby cats in my bed
sleepin' kitty litter dreams
sittin' on a barstool
with my donut pillow
barstool pigeon on the lawn
squawin' a squaw
and clawin' a claw
please me baby please me
be me maybe fer a little while
blue tile beak smile
beak smile country mile
pigeon bile
fleak fleak fleak his little beak
as he flies a country mile
through the aerial nerve gas

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thankful for a great friendship

My friend Bob Crain had Thanksgiving dinner with us today. I've known Bob since we formed a band called Fine Science together in June 1983. He is a career amateur musician like me, as well as a talented songwriter, a capable music recordist, and a multi-instrumentalist to boot. He and I have been in a few other bands since Fine Science, and we have recorded many other projects over the years.

He's a great friend who has always been there for me. My life is definitely richer for having known Bob, and i'm thankful that we are still good friends.

A written language which I never mastered

After High School i waited a semester before diving in to college. I had made up my mind that i was going to major in music, but at the end of summer in 1982 i felt like i needed a semester to cleanse me of High School before sitting in a classroom again. So in January 1983 i began my music education at Phoenix Community College, having enrolled in Choir, Music Theory 101 and Class Piano 101. I had never played piano before so i knew it was going to be a shock to my self-taught guitar rocking self.

And that it was. I had to start learning how to read and write music notation. And although i was really in to it, it was a definite challenge for me. Unfortunately i never gave myself enough time to get comfortable and become proficient at it. After the one semester i decided that i'd rather save music as my haven from the academic world, and so i switched my focus to other things.

Above is the first piece that i wrote during my piano class, although i can't remember if it was ever submitted and graded as an assignment. I think it was just something i wrote down with which i had been noodling on the $50 electronic piano that i bought so i could practice at home. I wonder what it would sound like? I suppose it would probably be a challenge for someone to decipher since my notation skills at that point were pretty sketchy.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Wavestar Motion Fabric Dudes

My friend Eric Zang and I had a live performance group in the early 1990's called Wavestar Motion Fabric Dudes. The name came from much earlier when my friend Bob Crain and I used to joke about the pretentious names of New Age groups of the mid-80's. We had attributed a few tracks from our tape releases to "the dudes" but had never performed under the strange moniker. Bob and I were in a band together called Fine Science and also did outside recording projects for fun. But when i met Eric, we found that we both had a penchant for weird, experimental, and ethnic musics, and when we formed a duo with the intent of playing live shows, i thought that the name was perfect.

After our first show in February 1991 we were suprised to be contacted by a reporter for The New Times Weekly, Phoenix's City Paper, about getting some additional info on us for a show review in the paper's Art section.

We were floored. We only had a crowd of about 30 people and just played because we love to play, but it turns out that our band name and also the name of our show caught the reporter's attention. A good theme can't be underrated for doing just that. We called the show Polka Jazz Deconstructionalism. Here's a transcription of the section of the article that pertains to us:

The performance artists, the main reason i had come, were warming up in the back room, and people started drifting back there. I followed them. The back room was like a small warehouse, with block walls and exposed air-conditioning ducts running the length of the ceiling. A huge carpet remnant sprawled on the concrete floor, accompanied by a few folding chairs. Most of the patrons (there were about thirty) stood around or sat on the floor, watching and listening to a couple of guys who called themselves "Wavestar Motion Fabric Dudes."

I didn't know what to expect. The Dudes were billed as "Polka Jazz Deconstructionists" in the press release, a concept that I just couldn't wrap my mind around. I was prepared for some boring noodlings separated by long stretches of significant silence. But the Dudes surprised me. I dubbed them the Short Guy and the Drummer. They were dressed in tacky off-white tuxedo jackets made of some nubby fabric, with black velvet lapels. They both wore knickers. The Short Guy, who turned out to be Eric Zang, played a number of instruments, all very well, including accordion, saxophone, flute, and guitar. The Drummer, a fellow named Todd Osborn, played the guitar as well, along with coffee cans and cookie tins. (There were also electronic instruments, including a rhythm machine that sounded like a Martian duck).

They moved through styles of music, tweaking jazz and mariachi and country and polka with their own interpretation, and with nearly seamless segues. It was like tuning a radio dial across the different wavebands. At one time, Zang would be playing the accordion and singing nonsense syllables, sounding for all the world like a lamenting Spanish lover. Then he would be playing the flute and dancing around like Pan. Halway through the performance, I found myself laughing. They were irrepressible. They actually were deconstructionists, trampling the musical fences and cleaning the MTV build-up out of your brain.

excerpt from a longer article by Jerome Dubois

Monday, November 19, 2007

Adulterous Woman

Me, Heather, and Natalie (reclining), circa 1992

You My Ring was a song from our first tape release Camping in Anger, recorded in December 1991
Down The Road was a later song recorded after our failed third tour in early 1993

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Phil's Poetry part 6

I have been scouring old notebooks to find poems for these Phil's Poetry posts. This is one of the few that had a date on it. I wrote it on April 4, 1986. I was just 21....ah, youth!

In A Boullion Minds

Floating in cups of old, grey bouillon
dark pieces of small, unknown matter
draw a pensive eye to behold them
Blue human beings in bare households
sit alone, as if it didn't matter
and look in to cups to try to get to know them

In cupboards, under rooftops
along rows of stone streets
chipped dinnerware slowly turns to sands
while lonely hunted beggars roam
and rarely another meet
and eat scraps and handouts with their hands

Someone inside their minds protects them
a fact confirmed by rumours
spread by T.V., our almost flawless medium
The printed word, the ruptured lines
remind us of a past disaster
and fly from our memories as boring tedium

Shawled grandmothers criticize,
epitomize the things to come
crawling ever closer to the comfort of uncertainty
And we the eyes, we scrutinize
behind telescopes and with no hopes
of ever being what we are so sure to be

Happy Birthday to My Little Man!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Brian Eno talks about Hugo Largo

I have this promotional tape, called "Brian Eno Wants You To Hear Something"*, which i got when i worked in a record store in the mid-80s. It's of Brian Eno talking about the band Hugo Largo on the eve of the release of their second album, Mettle. The fact that he made this recording at all is a testament to his immense interest in, and support of, the band. It's certainly not the kind of thing he would do in support of his own records. At times he sounds a bit uncomfortable, especially while laughing at something he has said, as though he was speaking to someone while recording it. But mostly he is sincere, eloquent, and insightful. His remarks touch on many interesting areas regarding music as an art form.

*If the copyright holder of these recordings wishes me to remove the excerpts i've posted i will do so.

Eno on Mettle 1
Eno on Mettle 2
Eno on Mettle 3
Eno on Mettle 4
Eno on Mettle 5

Friday, November 16, 2007

Tour Stories part 6

Now we come to the final chapter of Adulterous Woman's last tour in January 1993. Our meeting with Bar None Records had only just wrapped up mere hours before we packed up our rented minivan and left Hoboken for Boston. We could have stayed around NYC if we had wanted, but thanks to our cancelled CBGB gig we decided to clear out and have an extra night in Boston instead. We had scored a friend's apartment in Cambridge for accomodations, another living room takeover. We arrived, unloaded, settled, and went out for an evening of much needed decompression from the stresses under which we'd all been.

Our final gig the next night was at the Rathskeller, the famous Kenmore Square club. We were all excited and nervous, hoping that this gig would make up for the rest of the gigs being so awful. As we drove around to the stage entrance in the back parking lot, there were literally dozens of dead rats on the roads, and dozens more of live ones, which i thought must be how the club got it's name. But apparently the name is German for "council cellar".

We opened for a metal band called Heretix. We had to endure their soundcheck, which the band did quickly, but their vocalist did not. I kid you not, this guy stood on that stage screaming in to the microphone for 45 minutes and asking the soundman to tweak this and tweak that, and in the end it sounded the same as when he first stepped up there. It was agonizing. The fallout of his indulgence was that we didn't get a soundcheck at all. We set up and had a quick vocal check before launching right in to our set. Our set up time, performance, and take down time combined only took about 40 minutes.

The gig went pretty well otherwise. The sound quality on stage was decent, allowing us to proceed with some real confidence in our performance. Our friend Bob recorded it with his Sony Walkman, and the cringe factor is pretty low, the performances outshining the rough sound quality of the tape. We managed to sell a couple of copies of our tape release, a four song ep called Camping In Anger. And we made $40 for the gig. We were pretty happy with that, all things considered. It could have been worse.

That night while we slept, it got worse. We returned to our accomodations and loaded everything in, and then we all sacked out knowing that we'd need an early start in the morning. But the driver (me) forgot to move the minivan from the restricted parking lot next to the apartment building and (what do you know?) the minivan got towed. Oddly enough several of us heard the tow truck outside in the wee hours and didn't even make the connection that it was our vehicle being towed.

So the next morning we all were surprised to find it gone, and then we remembered the noises from mere hours before and it all made sense. Our host drove us to where we could pick up the van and it cost us exactly $50 to get it back. The tour was officially a complete bust. Not much went right, and so much went wrong. The very long drive home to Tempe was done straight through, just like the Tempe to Washington DC leg had been at the beginning. Luckily there were no accidents or even near accidents, and no ghosts. There was just 40 something hours of passing scenery broken up occasionally by rest stops and meals at Waffle Houses.

We returned as a band defeated. We never quite recovered. Despite Heather's and my commitment to staying with it, and despite recording some of our best material ever after the failed tour, Adulterous Woman split when Natalie announced she was leaving in October 1993.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Black Hole Sun

I was never a Soundgarden fan back in the day. In fact i wasn't interested in the grunge sound much at all, except for meeting, and liking, the band Love Battery while i was in Adulterous Woman. They had a really cool psychedelic influence and very beat-generation-inspired lyrics. But now i think i missed that a lot of those Seattle groups had similar influences.

I heard two versions of Black Hole Sun yesterday on the radio, one the original band version, and the other a live acoustic version by Chris Cornell. It made me want to go get Soundgarden's Superunknown record. Of course i'll have to look for a used copy as i am currently boycotting major labels.

Except for hearing that song on the radio a few times, i've enjoyed a cover version i have of it far more than the original. It's by an artist named Mimi from her album Soak. It came out on David Byrne's label Luaka Bop in the late 90's. Mimi was in Hugo Largo, a brilliant 80's band whom i have posted about before. Her version is gentle and ambient, or perhaps fragile is a better description. It musically caresses the ideas of frailty and vulnerability written in Cornell's lyrics, and Mimi's vocal performance is equally evocative.

There's another version that i heard many years ago, but only a couple of times, while i as working at Olsson's Books and Records in downtown DC. It was on a compilation called Lounge-a-Palooza, and was by none other than Steve Lawrence and Edie Gorme. And it was frakkin brilliant, too. I should have bought it then...perhaps i will now.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Tour Stories part 5

Continuing with Adulterous Woman's 1993 tour story, the Bar None showcase was, as i have been building toward from the last two chapters, an almost complete disaster. We arrived at the recording studio which was to be the venue for the showcase, unloaded and set up our equipment. The label guys weren't there yet, just the owner of the studio. As we set up he explained to us that the studio had recently been broken in to, and a bunch of gear was stolen by a former employee, or so they believed. Once all of our instruments were ready we asked the guy about the PA for our vocals. I can't remember but i think he was surprised that we hadn't brought our own (who do we look like, REM? Most independent bands don't tour with their own PA. Geesh!). Anyway he began further explaining that the theft left them with little to use for PA. And once he set up what they had, that point was made very clear. It was worse than the PA at Boo-Boo's. But on the bright side, at least there was no bar conversations that we would have to compete with.

Glenn Morrow showed up with his secretary and Bar None's then co-owner, both of whose names i have forgotten. As i recall the partner was a older, thin Scottish guy with a salt and pepper beard and mustache. The secretary i can't recall anything about. I was too nervous, and nerve-wrecked. What i can recall is that they were all really nice. Glenn mentioned that his sister liked us from the Boo-Boo's performance. During the showcase they all listened attentively and gave encouraging comments between songs. However, what i remember most is that we sucked even more than we had the night before at the club. Only this time, we knew that they knew it, too.

We were getting seriously bummed by all the bad turns of events on this tour. After our showcase set, Glenn and company asked what our plans were for the next day. We said we had to get going by late morning, and they invited us over to the Bar None offices in the morning to talk to us once they'd had a chance to talk it over between themselves. That night we cursed our luck with bad PAs and wondered what the conversation would be like with them.

In the morning we headed to their offices down near the waterfront. They invited us in and immediately started showering us with tapes and CDs of their current catalogue of artists. We took this at first as a good sign. Wouldn't you? However, once we heard what they had to say we realized that it was pretty much a kiss off, but certainly a very nice one. Better than the CBGB one, that's for sure.

To be fair, to us as well as them, Glenn and his business partner did say that they could see potential in us, and they liked a few of our songs, especially one called "Meet the Wife of the Devil", and they hinted at possibly doing a single of it at some point. They wanted us to keep in touch and send them more demos. We never did, which is something i'll talk about in the next Tour Stories chapter.

Tour Stories part 4

After the nearly fatal van accident of Adulterous Woman's east coast tour of 1993, we finally arrived at our friend's house in Alexandria, Virginia. It was the first stopping point between our home in Tempe, AZ and the first gig in Hoboken, NJ. Our friend Bob let us take over his small apartment's living room for a couple of days and showed us a few sights in Washington, DC. Then we had to shove on off to our gigs, and Bob decided he'd come along. We were glad for his company, and we were glad to have an additional fan in the audiences, too.

We stayed in Hoboken at our friend and former tour manager Mike's brother's apartment. It was a 5th floor walkup with no elevator. So it was necessary to lug all of our equipment up the 4 flights of stairs several times while staying with him. We arrived the afternoon before our first gig, at a club in Hoboken called Boo-Boo's, and we made some phone calls. The first bad news of the tour, aside from almost dying, was that the booking person for CBGB apparently didn't know how to read a calandar, yet alone use one, and told me that we were supposed to be playing one week later. I protested, saying that i had confirmed the date several times in different phone conversations with her. But she didn't back down, and was even rude, defensive, and in denial about her mistake. She offered us a spot in the wee hours of the morning, at like 3am, which we should have just taken, but on principles we declined. 3am on a Friday or Saturday would be one thing, and we would have overlooked her incompetence, but not for a weeknight.

We invited the BarNone guys to come out to Boo-Boo's even though our showcase with them was the next day. When we called Glenn Morrow he said that his wife was about to go in to labor, but that his sister wanted to come out and see us in his stead. She apparently did some work for the label, too. We gladly put her on our guest list once we arrived at the gig. We began wondering if Glenn was even going to make the showcase.

Boo-Boo's was very crowded when we arrived, but once we set up and started playing we realized quickly that 90% of the patrons were there to merely drink and socialize. We were largely ignored and had to play over the din of conversations with a piss poor PA system. We had to keep our amplifier volumes down just to hear the vocals ourselves. It was catagorized afterward by the band as a pretty awful gig. Glenn's sister did arrive, though, and only missed a few songs i think. She was kindly supportive and was gonna pass along her impressions of us to her brother. Oh, and she said the baby was born and Glenn would be able to make the showcase just fine the next day. Yay!

We returned to our 4th floor walkup and discussed how much we sucked that night, and how much we were looking forward to playing much better for the showcase (a foreshadowing!). The showcase was set for an afternoon, early evening kind of thing, so to take up most of the next day Kelly, Aimee, Bob, and I went sightseeing for a bit in NYC. Natalie stayed in Hoboken and brooded, and Heather kept her company (took one for the team, she did).

During our sightseeing Aimee nearly got lost in the subway. We all stepped on to an extremely busy train at one point and looked back to see that Aimee hadn't made it. The sad face we looked at as our subway car slowly moved away almost made us cry (i think Kelly actually did), especially as Aimee had given Kelly her purse to carry. So there she was alone on a subway platform in the middle of New York City with no money and no identification...and no cell phones, which we all now take for granted. The rest of us got out at the next stop, hit the surface, got our bearings, and took off running for the last stop hoping that Aimee would stay put. She did, all was well, and now we have this great story to amuse us.

(to be continued)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Tour Stories - Part 3

Adulterous Woman's last tour at the beginning of 1993 was an attempt to check out the East Coast and see if perhaps we would fit in better there than we did in Phoenix, which only had (easy) access to the West Coast. Heather and I had an idea that being all Throwing Muses-y as we were, that perhaps the more heady rock audiences of the East would dig us more. So in mid 1992, we began sending out tapes to independent labels to see if we could get a bite, and started trying to line up club dates.

We managed to get a Bar None Records showcase, which we all were enthused about. They had some acts then that we would have been pleased to call labelmates. And the label was just big enough to have decent distribution, but no so big as to expect us to sell millions of records. We also managed to book gigs at The Rathskellar in Boston, and CBGB in NYC. Despite having a friend in the DC area who we were going to stay with for a couple of days, we weren't able to get a booking there.

Time being so hard to come by for us working stiffs, we had to try to fit our tour in to two weeks, with driving time threatening to take up almost half of that. Heather decided that we should just take shifts driving and do the cross country trek straight through, only stopping for meals. We set out on an early January morning in a rented minivan with the band (guitarist Natalie, Bassist Heather, and Drummer me), Kelly, and our friend Aimee. Heather did a lion's share of the driving, with me and Kelly probably sharing most of the rest.

Driving from southern Arizona in to southern New Mexico (or in fact from anywhere in Arizona in to New Mexico) one realizes just how beautiful the State of New Mexico is, and how dingy the Arizona desert is by comparison. Then you get to Central Texas and you get lost in the expanse. It seemed like we'd never get through it. The highlight for me was seeing a sign for Palo Duro Canyon which is mentioned in the Throwing Muses song Dizzy. Yes...that literally was the highlight.

At the butt crack of dawn the next morning we finally entered Arkansas and headed up toward Little Rock and on to Memphis. Then at dusk, we were just entering the southeasternmost part of Virginia when we encountered snow. We stopped for dinner at a Waffle House (We saw a lot of Waffle Houses on this tour). When we got back on the road the first "incident" of the tour happened.

Heather was in the driver's seat as we headed back out in to the snowy evening. I was directly behind her, and resting so i could take a driving shift later. We were still about 8 hours from our friend's house and Heather had already been driving before our dinner break. She pulled back on to the snow-covered freeway and was getting up to speed when all of a sudden i look up to see a shower of burning cigarette parts flying in my face and lap. I started loudly, "Hey!" and the van began switching left and right in the slush. Heather tried to correct this but the van was at this point on the inside shoulder of the freeway, and to our shock, was heading directly toward the wrong side of an overpass. I had immediate thoughts of us careening down the hill and flying on to whatever was below that overpass; a creek, another road, a ravine? Luckily in those few seconds, which seemed an eternity, Heather was able to get control of the van and put it back on to the pavement in time to go over the overpass.

Everyone sat quiet for many minutes after that. We were just counting our blessings that we were alive. Apparently she had dropped her cigarette on the floor and had bent quickly down to pick it up and then tried to roll her window down and dispose of the damn thing. Instead the wind whipped it back in to the van, and in to me. All of this took place within a few seconds and, momentarily confused and surprised, Heather didn't notice that she was off the road on to the shoulder. Trying to correct it initially is when the pitching left and right began. I think we all lost a few years off of our lives that night.

But at least we didn't see any ghosts. (to be continued)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Thank You, Friends

I got to play music today for the first time in quite a while. My friend Bob, whom i've known and with whom i've played music since 1983, is a member of an improvisational group called Conduit based in Falls Church, VA. They invited me to sit in with them. Well, to be truthful i kinda asked to sit in, but Bob would have asked me in a heartbeat if he had known i was ready to get back in to playing. Since the kids came along it has been hard to schedule the time to play, so he was used to my period of inactivity.

Anyway the other guys in the group, JD and Ted, were very nice and welcoming. They used to be a quartet, but one of their keyboardists left the band a few months back. Since then they have enjoyed being a trio but they also like having guests too. So i got to be the guest on Conduit 23, that's right the twenty-third CD the band had made. The modus operandi of the band is that they record everything they play, and they free-improvise all of it too, which is what mine and Bob's band Unola did as well.

I thought it went fairly well, even though i haven't sat down at a drum kit or picked up a guitar in months. But of course when recording, there is a big difference between how it sounds in the room and how it will sound on the playback. We'll have to hear how it turns out in a few weeks when JD has a chance to mix it all down. Thanks guys! And thanks to my lovely wife for herding our kids alone for the afternoon and into the evening so that i could indulge myself in my favorite artistic activity.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Phil's Poetry part 5

Non Sequitors 1-21

belly up to the bar
it's a drop in the bucket
pass the buck
like wow, man
cough it over
a bird in the hand
i'm up again
it's a dog's life
call me in about an hour
got change for a dollar?
a green guernsey cow
now, then
the third police report tonight
i've got a bump
put in his thumb and pulled out a plumb
any which way you look at it
hey dog, you're gettin' out of hand
blond, fermenting chloraphile
don't touch that dial
what was i just thinking of?
pull when push comes to shove

Friday, November 9, 2007

Who Can It Be Now?

I had dinner once in 1987 with Colin James Hay. He was the lead singer for the 80's band Men at Work for those of you who don't recognize the name. It wasn't just the two of us, it was a record company dinner for him as he passed through Phoenix on a radio tour supporting his first solo album Looking for Jack. Instead of touring with a band and playing gigs, he did interviews and played acoustically at radio stations.

My then boss Mark at Tower Records asked if I wanted to go simply because he could bring someone, and he had only been told about it that it was a last minute kind of thing. I thought, "free dinner, sure", and off we went. It was in Scottsdale at a upscale Italian restaurant whose name i can't remember.

I ended up sitting right next to Mr. Hay, even though I was just somebody's guest at this thing. We talked about music mostly (No! Really?). I remember a lengthy conversation about Frank Zappa, and another about life in Australia. He was very nice, and he even chatted me up about my then band Fine Science once I brought the subject up.

The most memorable thing about the whole evening, though, was when we left. Colin and I walked out together, still talking, and as we stepped outside it was snowing. He said something like, "Hey, look at that?", and i replied, "yeah, this doesn't happen in Scottsdale." Of course it didn't stick, it just melted immediately, but it sure was beautiful.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Phil's Poetry part 4

show me the cold moon o shattered son
pilfer from the small towns and cities
the goods which keep you living

the brave deeds of your kind
the gears which clutch and grind
the hours i've lain awake
by choice i've taken back
my voice and given another
a chance to live
in the delusion that what we are
here is as flesh and bones appear
in photographs and x-ray
as murderers or as hunters' prey

show us as we really are
to us non-beings in as far
as we made up our minds
to hide inside them
the cold moon is larger than it looks to be

we are capable
and capable of being misled
and of misleading ourselves

we are tied to the tracks
looking forward to the future
and then back at the past
when actually both ways seem to fade
forever from our sight
because we fail to know what can last

show me the cold moon o battered son
make me to feel everything as one
our tracks are paths toward endless horizons

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Tour Stories - Part 2

On Adulterous Woman's first tour, we only played a few shows. Booking your own unknown band is no easy task, and you have to just take what you can get and hope there's a crowd. Well one way we hoped to reach more people is to play on a college radio station. We contacted KDVS at the University of California at Davis campus and they set a date for us to play live on the air.

When we arrived everyone was very nice, but we ended up being hurried on for reasons i can't recall. There was no time for any soundcheck and the monitoring was really bad, almost non-existent. So not being able to hear our vocals well enough meant that we effectively sucked vocally. Often we were off-key and singing too loud which distorted the signal at times. The proof of this was that they recorded the whole thing for us; that's a tape that i've only listened to all the way through once, while cringing.

The day before that show, though, while staying in San Jose, my wife and I had a strange experience. We got a motel room for all of us, and then leaving Heather and Natalie there, Kelly and I decided to go in search of some dinner, ie fast food. We started off one way on the not-so-busy divided road and after 5 minutes or so realized that wasn't the way to go. There were no restaurants of any kind to be seen. So we found a turn lane, made a "U-ey" and started off in the other direction.

As soon as i turned and started speeding up, i immediately noticed a man walking from the curb in to the street from a boarded up ex-motel. I slowed down a bit, not knowing whether he was going to stop. Then he did stop, right at the white line, and when our rental car was about 10 feet from him he turned and faced us. To my shock, there was blood streaming down the right side of his face. I gasped, and so did Kelly, as we passed him within a couple of seconds (i was probably going about 25 mph by then) and then i immediately looked in the rear view mirror. I saw nothing. Of course it was getting darker (our headlights were on) so there may just not have been enough light to see him. So i found the next place to make another U-turn and we went back to see if he needed help. There was no sign of the guy, and no blood on the road even though there really should have been. I mean the blood was literally streaming.

It's the only time i've ever had an experience that i can't explain except to say that it had to be an apparition. A prank? Not with the volume of liquid coming off of that guy's face. There would have to have been some trace of it left. It was only about 45 seconds between seeing it and going back. And in our headlights the second time around the road was completely dry. Kelly and I drove back to the motel mostly in silence. We both saw it although Kelly has always been more skeptical about it. But as for me, i think we saw a ghost.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Phil's Poetry part 3

this daughter of her father's contempt
teaching life with simple motions
sleeping among strangers
misunderstanding their solutions
she could be the queen of all sensation
as they idolize her
she remembers what she gave
and what she took
as with each empty bottle
her life was poured out
put down
and thrown up

Monday, November 5, 2007

Artists for my Top 100 Albums

as promised here's the list of artists that created my Top 100 Albums of all time list.

Laurie Anderson
Syd Barrett
The Beatles
Big Star
Peter Blegvad
David Bowie
The Breeders
Kate Bush
David Byrne
John Cale
Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band
The Cars
The Clash
Bruce Cockburn
Cocteau Twins
Julian Cope
Elvis Costello
Dixie Dregs
Drunken Boat
Brian Eno
Brian Eno + David Byrne
French, Frith, Kaiser, and Thompson
Robert Fripp
Fred Frith
Peter Gabriel
Marvin Gaye
Giles, Giles, and Fripp
Philip Glass
The Golden Palominos
John Greaves & Peter Blegvad
Steve Hackett
Roy Harper
Henry Cow
Robyn Hitchcock
Steve Howe
Hugo Largo
Jean-Michel Jarre
Jethro Tull
Elton John
King Crimson
Kitchens of Distinction
John Lennon & Yoko Ono
Let's Active
The Lodge
Bob Marley and the Wailers
Mavis Piggott
Marli MacLoed
Meat Puppets
Joni Mitchell
Van Morrison
Harry Nillsson
Sinead O'Connor
Andy Partridge
Pink Floyd
Prefab Sprout
The Pretenders
Lou Reed
Roxy Music
Sadistic Mika Band
Jane Siberry
Siouxsie and the Banshees
Slapp Happy
The Soft Boys
Steely Dan
Suddenly Tammy
The Swans
Hajime Tachibana
Talking Heads
Talk Talk
The Teardrop Explodes
Tears for Fears
10,000 Maniacs
Thirteenth Floor Elevators
Richard and Linda Thompson
Throwing Muses
Tirez Tirez
The Velvet Underground
Tom Verlaine
The Violent Femmes
Lucinda Williams
The Wolfgang Press
Robert Wyatt
Frank Zappa

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Phil's Poetry part 2

What delight
Imagination censors time
The licence permitted has introduced a result
a phenomenon of freedom

The subject is
In the galleries of words
The entire subject
Continually living to solve
It suffers greater freedom

source material:

What delight the poetic imagination takes in making game of censors. Time was when the poetic arts codified the licences to be permitted. Contemporary poetry, however, has introduced freedom in the very body of the language. As a result, poetry appears as a phenomenon of freedom. - Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space, Introduction

The speaking subject is the entire subject. - Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space

...Lonely prospector in the galleries of words. - J.B. Pontalis

We are continually living a solution of problems that refection cannot hope to solve. - J.H. Van den Berg

Poetry constantly surpasses its origins, and because it suffers more deeply in ecstacy or in sorrow, it retains greater freedom. - Pierre-Jean Jouve

Tour Stories part 1

In 1992 my then main band Adulterous Woman went on a short tour (our second) to the Northwest, mostly to play in Portland and Seattle where we had booked two shows each. Travelling with us (us being Heather, Natalie and myself) were my girlfriend Kelly (now my wife, she is also Heather's sister), and our friends Aimee and Mike. Mike used to let us practice at his house in South Phoenix and on the tour he decided he would act as our manager, which we all agreed might help smooth over any problems we encountered.

We had rented a minivan for this tour. On the previous tour we had taken two cars, and on the way back one of them broke down. This was before the affordable cell phone so logistics were difficult. When we got to Portland we had arranged to stay with a friend whose band i was in briefly back in Phoenix a few years before. He had a gorgeous old house pretty close to downtown Portland. He was also really in to drugs, which our "manager" Mike appreciated. In fact he appreciated it so much that he decided he'd stay behind while we went on to Seattle to play at the OK Hotel. They actually had scored something really good right outside our Satyricon gig the night before.

The OK Hotel show went really well. We headlined, i believe, being the out of town band on a weeknight. It wasn't because anyone had heard of us necessarily, although Kevin (Love Battery) and Chris and Carla (The Walkabouts) did come to see us. We had met them in travels before, both ours and theirs. The opening band was called John The Baptist, and after we performed it became clear that they were quite impressed with us. Their drummer was very complimentary, and when we were just about to go ask Kevin about possible accomodations, the drummer invited us to stay at his place. He said he'd be glad to let us stay there and he'd go sleep at his girlfriend's place to make more room. We thought this was nice so we accepted his offer.

After loading out in the wee hours, the drummer-guy brought a biker guy over to us and said that his friend would ride with us in our van, because the directions to their place were a bit confusing. This should have been red flag number one. But we were young and probably a little naive. Kevin said, upon hearing about this arrangement, "if things don't work out, call me", and he raised his eyebrows in an all-wise manner. This should have been red flag number two.

The drive to the house we were to stay in was indeed very confusing and even the biker guy got lost a little. This should be red flag number three. After about a 45 minute drive, we finally we got to the house. I recall that it was north of Seattle's downtown, so yeah it was the suburbs edging towards being the sticks. The house sat on a corner and had a fairly high cement stair climb to get to the front door. After biker guy went up to the house we all sat wondering if perhaps we should make up an excuse to leave. But we were tired so we plodded in, each with a light load of gear, just to get the lay of the land.

And what did we see as we entered? A small living room with a guy, who i call video zombie, sitting on an ottoman, so lost in the game that he didn't even look at any of the 5 people entering the house carrying band equipment. Well, ok maybe he didn't even live there, so big deal. But as we walked around the corner in to the kitchen there were two guys playing a different kind of game. One of them had a gun and seemed to be showing the other one a particular kind of choke hold that is suitable for a mugging, or perhaps an armed robbery. I remember feeling my stomach drop but just continuing to follow our biker guide, who had met us at the door, down in to the basement to where drummer guy apparently lived.

Now i was thinking, "basement apartment: must be more than large enough to accomodate us", right? Well, not really. The entire basement was perhaps 12 feet by 12 feet with a huge bed taking up most of the room. We all stood looking at this small room and for a few seconds tried to figure out how we could work out a tetris diagram of where we'd all sack out. I recall someone, probably Heather, saying, "well Kelly, you and Todd can have the bed".

After a minute sanity hit and i suggested that we just find an excuse to leave. I figured if we made it past the gunman, we were home free. The interesting thing about the gunman, too, was that to my memory neither he nor his student, just like the video zombie, said anything to us or even seemed to acknowledge that we were there. It only just occured to me at the time of this writing that perhaps they were ghosts, and that maybe even biker guy didn't see them, although all 5 of us definitely did. My wife and I both had seen what i could only explain as being a ghost on our previous tour, but that's another post.

When we called Kevin at about 3:30am, he was incredibly understanding and listened to our freaked out adventure before heading back to bed, leaving us his wonderfully huge (by comparison) living room in which to crash. His wife had to be up early for class, or a job, i can't remember which, but we were able to sleep in until mid-morning before heading out for Portland to pick up our "manager".

Friday, November 2, 2007

review of Fibulator - Even From Here You Look Big

The Oakland, California band Fibulator never became well known, but they sure did make some interesting music, and two great vinyl records. In later interviews the members unanimously panned this, their first vinyl but second overall release, as they did also when I talked to them about it in 1994. At that time they much preferred the work they had just created, their second vinyl album drankfromtheasphalt. Personally, although the latter is an equally great record, I have always liked Even From Here You Look Big a bit more.

Fibulator's sound is hard to describe. My first impression was that they reminded me of Art Bears, Fred Frith's post Henry Cow band from the late 70's. But i later understood them to be influenced by other San Francisco Bay area bands like The Residents and Thinking Fellers Union Local 282, both being not too far from the Art Rock path (sic). But influences aside, Fibulator's music is complex, engaging, and at times funky, ambient, quirky, angular, and darkly humorous (and more).

The main lyrical theme that seems to thread through Even From Here You Look Big is that of emotional manipulation. That idea is present in several songs which dissect different kinds of relationships. The theme definitely translates for me as a concept, although most bands would vomit at the suggestion that they've made a concept album.

The first track on the album where the theme seems most evident is Confuse Me. The lyrics concern a situation where the singer is arguing with a stalker-y sort of guy, perhaps a fan. Some of the best moments play on dark humor, "Don't send me letters filled with my old poems....Remember this song's really not about you", with the refrain always being something to the effect of "I can't be your friend, you're trying to confuse me". There's an emotional tension that is wonderfully captured in the vocal performances and equally supported in the well-crafted and well-played music.

In Slabsides, another kind of relationship is presented. The protagonist, identified on the lyric sheet as Laura, reveals a manipulative nature as she burns ants on the sidewalk with a magnifying glass. But she is reflective about the act, and philosophizes about her mental state and how her environment contributes to her whim. Again the vocal parts are emotively acted out with strong dynamics that elevate the song to more of an experience. Just like a movie where you forget that there are actors reading lines, you begin to live in Fibulator's songs.

On the second side of this vinyl only release, the song Waiter deals with yet another manipulative character, this time a random coffee shop patron. The song isn't about the waiter, but rather about the brief relationship between a woman sitting at the counter waiting for a bus and a bullying man trying to talk to her. Halfway through his bullying she begins pleading with the waiter "can i have a glass of water? you have the right time?......can I get an ashtray?......I need another napkin please" as she nervously endures the patron's intimidating tones. You can feel her frustration as she tries to divert attention away from the man, hoping perhaps that he'll just leave her alone. When she does speak to him he makes her doubt her answers as he mocks them. When at one point she passively agrees "i guess so", he aggressively digs in, "What, what, what, what do you mean you guess so?" to which she stutters, "i-i-i, i-i, i mean i think i don't really know....why can't i say what i mean?"

Prelude to the Cactus seems to be a short glimpse of a father/daughter dinner engagement and features a strange, one sided, philosophic conversation. The daughter at one point questions, "Father will you forsake me?" and goes on, "Knowing that you will, i'll forsake you first, i'll skirt the worst, my family will love me still, and i will know this with bitterness."

There are complicated emotional processes going on in these scenarios, and they are all presented in perfectly matched musical environments. The vocals range from the furious screamed chorus of Slabsides, to gentle whispers in Loose Ends, to the almost operatic Prelude to the Cactus.

Musically, Fibulator utilized odd time signatures and jarring stop/start arrangements. They created musical worlds with their songs. There's tension, dynamics, loping repetition, moody atmospheres, and grooves aplenty. The melodies are catchy, but not in a hooky top-40 way. It's clear that the members of this group had imagination, and knew how to work well together to come up with multi-faceted rock compositions in which no one instrument or voice ever dominates. They were a true group in the best sense.

The musicianship is of a very high quality while still having a loose, improvisational feel. The songs aren't over-rehearsed, and seem very organic. Like i said before, you could live inside this music, and take in the musical landscapes that they have created. It is one of the most engaging records i've ever heard. Finding a copy may be difficult as the band broke up in the late 90's. If you want one but can't find a copy, contact me....maybe we can work something out.

Even From Here You Look Big and drankfromtheasphalt were originally released on Electro Motive Records. Their final album, unhammerlike, is still available on CD at Silly Bird Records.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Welcome to NaBloPoMo

It's November and that mean it's National Blog Posting Month. Coming up here at Philfree we'll have Tour Stories from Phil's bands, Phil's poetry, some record reviews, and much much more.
There are many wonderful and talented bloggers to check out. So...well....check em out!

Phil's Poetry part 1

For Alaska

something spilled
a toxic harmful
we celebrate the imbalance
calling all squadrons, alert
i have a feeling tonight
some people are going to get hurt

along the axis a craft flies
legs of light walking in place like a mime
beach neck overboard
stones fill up a part of what it was to be empty
below surface albeit above the law
the blame lies like a wounded raven
can be pitied
serves as our world conscience
tells more in its exhoneration than most men could forthright