I’m trying to get some scratch demos recorded that are decent enough to share with friends. Trial and error have now proven that the best microphone I own is in my cell phone. I should buy a better one for this purpose—maybe with birthday money or something. My singing voice is at least as big an obstacle though.
Anyway here’s one attempt. I wrote the bulk of these lyrics back in November, and paired them with the bluesy chord progression just a few weeks ago.
Feedback welcome. There’s a lot of room for improvement, but you can at least hear the gist.
Christmas was maybe our best yet with the kids. They let us sleep until about 6:40, and we suspect Riley was up before 5:00. That level of restraint and patience is the best gift they could give me. And they didn’t even eat all of their stocking candy while they were waiting. I got a whole bunch of shirts, a nonstick skillet, and a pancake pen. And then the kids got me a new electric shaver at my request (which I feel especially obliged to mention because I seem to talk inordinately about shaving in here. Seriously, I should probably add a tag).
I’ve joined a friend’s biweekly tabletop RPG. We’re playing Necessary Evil. I’m still learning the ins and outs of the Savage Worlds system, but it’s been pretty fun so far. It ain’t City of Heroes, but it helps.
Songwriting has been a bit stalled lately, but I’m hoping I can push a bit harder now that the holiday rush is winding down. I’m considering it a New Year’s resolution to write at least six more songs, and play out at least twice (not counting the Community Circle at my kids’ school, awesome though that remains).
Each Friday my kids’ elementary school has what they call Community Circle, in which the whole student body assembles to sing songs, and to recognize accomplishments and other good behavior from the students. It’s super adorable. Even just being there would be a high point of my week by itself—but I also get to bring my accordion and play along on the songs. I’ve been doing this when possible for the past year and a half.
It’s been a really great experience for me: I get to play accordion alongside other musicians, in a very casual and totally nonjudgmental context, with an enthusiastic audience. Everyone around here knows I love doing it, but really, they don’t know the half of it.
So I wrote a little song for Community Circle. It’s called “Gather Up, My Friends,” and it’s just basically about what Community Circle is. It’s short and sweet; I tried to keep it relatively easy to remember. I liked it well enough to share it with the music teacher and other parent musicians, and they all liked it well enough that it’s in our standard repertoire now. And today we all sang it together, with the kids, for the first time.
Oh man. What an incredible feeling! I’m getting a little choked up even now, thinking about all those voices singing along with me on it. There’s nothing else like it. I will never forget today.
Here’s the phone demo I made just to teach the song to the other musicians there: [Gather Up, My Friends] It’s just me on the uke and singing. But this pales in comparison to the full sound from today. I really need to get a recording of that eventually, if they’ll let me.
I saw Mike Doughty perform with a backing band at The Loft in Atlanta last week. The other times I’ve seen him perform, he’s been an opening act, and it’s just been him and his acoustic guitar. I kind of think his vocals were mixed a little low this time, they had a hard time competing with the band. I knew almost all the songs already, so Mike’s artisanal wordsmithing wasn’t lost on me, but if I didn’t know the words I would’ve found it hard to discern a lot of them. So I was a little disappointed on behalf of the friend I had brought with me to the show, but he assures me he enjoyed it too.
I sang along a lot, which always feels good. There were a couple of moments where Mike got mixed up on the verses and somehow I made the same mistakes along with him in real time. It was kind of uncanny. I felt very present, if that makes sense.
The opening band was an act called Moon Hooch, who claimed to have been plucked from the streets of New York by Mr. Doughty and invited to tour with him on the spot. They were two sax players and a drummer; their whole performance was instrumental, but their pure musicianship was mesmerizing to watch. These guys can BLOW.
It was great to get out, even on a Thursday night. I need to commune with sound more often, it’s so therapeutic.
I brought Dwight (my accordion) to our Music Together class yesterday. I had worked up simple arrangements of three songs from the current songbook, and accompanied the class while they sang and danced. (I sang along where possible too, but was thinking too hard most of the time.) It was so much fun, I’m looking forward to doing it again sometime. I also want to bring the uke in at some point.
After class we went to Verizon Wireless to look at the new Droid, which Laura went ahead and bought. (I’m officially jealous. I love my Samsung Flipshot, but man is that thing sexy.) The kids entertained the sales guys by pretending to talk on the dummy model phones throughout the store. One of the guys went in back and got a couple of discontinued models, and gave them to the kids as toys. They were so proud. They’ve been making pretend phonecalls on them ever since.
Then, next door to Verizon is a Tae Kwon Do school, and they were celebrating their fourth anniversary with free food, demonstrations, a bounce house, and cake. The kids had a ball and wore themselves out. Riley was imitating the demonstrators, kicking and shouting an approximation of “hyah!” We got to thinking about how martial arts would teach a lot of the things that Riley needs most: confidence, discipline, focus. We spoke with the manager, and she was very supportive, saying they work with special needs kids all the time. She set Riley up with an instructor — a teenage boy who surprised us by being really good with Riley. We signed Riley up for classes. He seems excited about it, we’re hopeful he’ll participate well.
(Of course, as I typed this he was screaming his lungs out, in protest of being sent to “quiet time” for having screamed about having to wear non-preferred underwear because he wet his Spongebob ones. So we shall see. Rome wasn’t built in a day and so on.)