Thursday, January 29, 2009

About the songwriter

Well, I figure I may as well say a little bit about me now.

Like many people, I took band classes in middle and high school and I sang in the church choir. Through school I played tenor and alto saxophones in concert band, jazz bands and combos, and a church praise band. I arranged and even wrote a little for the jazz combos and praise band. I learned to read music and even basic theory, but I wouldn't really consider these a full formal musical education. In terms of what I know now, most has been learned from analysis, conversation, and reading.

Over Christmas break in 8th grade I bought my first electric guitar and soon set out learning all the Weezer and Green Day I could. Hey, it was the mid-90s. Within a few years I would become more attracted to acoustic music (folk and world), and under influence of R.E.M. and my new fascination with celtic music, I would buy a mandolin by my sophomore year. I would go on to pick up (and sometimes drop) fiddle, harmonica, tin whistle, piano accordion, banjo, and oddly tuned guitar variants.

These days I listen to a little of everything. There is over 100GB of music on my computer, spanning several centuries and the globe. You can get a taste by following the Last.FM and RYM links to the side. My favorite music is probably American music from the 1920s and 30s, particularly Chicago style jazz and jug and string bands. I have soft spots for western swing, Scottish and Maritime fiddling traditions, 77 punk, West African guitar music, and jazzy or soulful hip hop.

I've never been particularly proud of my singing, and I've usually avoided being made the lead singer of groups I've been a part of. This hasn't been working too well lately though.

Here are a few of the bands I've played with who have an online presence.

  • The Staggerers: Celtic rock. I mostly show up to play accordion, but I've written a few songs for them that the band still has yet to learn.

  • The Vidalia String Band, Betram Profane, etc: An excuse to play at open-mics or go busking that receives a new name each outing. I usually sing and play guitar. The core is made up of three out of four Shit House Boys.

  • The Shit House Boys: Straight up country, old-timey and folk. We had a regular gig at a local pub in the summer of 07 and also played some local festivals. I played lead guitar and sang back-up.

  • Zombie Nationalists: I'll be playing with them in a week. Shaun was a Sod and also a member of...

  • The Daisy Pushers: Folk-rock or twee. I played banjo and mandolin. Many members graduated and went their separate ways in spring 06, but the band played one last show in 07. They played a version of my song "Lady in Orange".

  • The Sods: My pet project between 1999 and 2005. I played everything but bass and drums over the years and wrote the music to all songs that weren't traditional or covers. I quit in 05, with the second album still unfinished, and the band split a few months after. We did some reunion shows in 07.

  • Them Ashtray Lickers: rough and fun Americana. I played guitar and sang back-up, initially because I didn't want much responsibility, being the de facto leader of The Sods at the time.

  • Chumpty Dumptys: Rock that never found its place. We only recorded the one song, on which I played keys and the funky guitar.

This is in addition to many failed attempts to start punk, psychobilly, funk, world, and jazz groups that never reached a recording stage.

1 comment:

  1. I'm diggin on these old projects man. This description of how you came about as a musician seems in many ways the exact opposite of my own path. I took art and lit classes in school. My first instrument was a drum machine I found. I promptly started sampling metallica riffs and putting electronic beats under them while screaming black metal style over them...all on a cheap stereo with a shitty karaoke function. I only got into music because I had a reputation as a maniac and the kids liked my poetry,not to mention I had a place to jam. I hung with a group of what I could only describe as semi-psychotic occult minded drug addled hillbillies. We would collect junk appliances drop acid and smash them to pieces and reshape them into sculptures while playing tunes in an old building out behind my parents house. I always believed we were watched by the FBI, I have some evidence of this in fact. I started out in live bands doing performance art, are go go dancing as I prefer to call it. Even copycat massacre I was originally the dancer. Our first gig I sand exactly one line! The rest of the time I danced around in a luchadore outfit. To this day I still can't really play an instrument. Sometimes I wish I had went this more structured path, It certainly would have been helpful. Now though I've learned so many ways around it(it being talent I suppose) that I think I would be lost any other way. I've learned to do a lot of things though none of them terribly well. I hope that the strong spots in some areas prop up the weak spots in other areas. Sometimes this happens other times not.