Los Galactacos Continues Our Residency in to the Fall

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Please join the fellas (Andy Happel, Pete Witham, Drew Wyman) and I on Monday evenings for Mojito Monday Happy Hour at El Rayo in Scarborough, ME. We play music from the Americas, including Tex-Mex, Ranchera, Bossa Nova, Ol’ Time Country, Fiddle Tunes, Bluegrass, Jazz Standards, the Classic American Songbook, and more.

Los Galactacos plays Mojito Mondays
Monday Evenings from 5:30pm – 7:30pm
at El Rayo Taqueria
245 US-1, Scarborough, ME 04074

Happy Birthday to the Left Rev. McD

(photo credit by Bryan Bruchman/Hillytown – @subinev)

Today is the birthday of Gene McDaniels. Eugene Booker McDaniels was born in 1935, which would have made him 80 today. What a fantastic accomplishment that would have been, but it certainly would have been a sweet icing on an already rich cake.

In his career, Gene advanced music, art, pop culture, social awareness, and the incendiary issues of racial divide that seemed to mark his entire time on this earth. Gene always got there before anyone else, defined the space he was in, and left seemingly before anyone else arrived. He did this in several chapters in his life to history-making success. Gene McDaniels was exceptional at everything he did.

Since Gene’s passing, I think of him frequently. The sense of loss is significant, as I had just gotten to meet and work with him in the last 2 years of his life. I have a lot more about Gene to share, but have been at a point of pause for some time now. I’ve been focusing my efforts on a gift to Gene that I had hoped would be complete by today so I might offer it as a birthday gift. Alas, this one will have to be slightly belated, as many homemade things are…

So, to celebrate Gene today, I’ve collected some of my favorite work of his in to a playlist. This is by no means exhaustive or comprehensive; it just is a tiny scratch on the surface of a huge body of work. I’m enjoying these songs today, and hope you do, as well.

“I have just begun to know the meaning of my being…” – Gene McDaniels, “Follow You Down”

Thanks, Gene. Take it slow.

“Can You Feel November Inside of My Soul?”

photoI had spent the better part of the previous month saying“December Tenth!” to everyone on Gordon’s campus. Jenny’s cousin Stacey can attest to this. Everyone knew there was some sort of thing going on that night at Lane, aka the student center in the Cafeteria/Hall. 

They hadn’t trusted us yet to rehearse in the chapel, never mind hold a full scale concert there. This made things next to impossible when it actually came to running tunes. We only had three at that point, and we were rehearsing them for this show. The one thing that made it relatively easy was that I had yet to be “permitted” to play a full drum kit. Joseph had a grand vision, and even at that early stage I knew meant tough times ahead. This vision included me playing congas on one tune, snare with brushes on another, and just hi-hats on the other.

This spare setup obviously had a limited future, but Jose was still holding on to the dream at that point. And after all, we had to be able to cart all the stuff in to a student lounge, totally take over the joint for an hour, and then pack up and haul it back away. It was working for the time being.

This, my first concert I ever promoted, had 6 bands on the bill rocking out in the cafeteria, and I believe I was playing with 4 of them. Yes, that happened even twenty years ago.

I much prefer to think of the absolute foolish innocence of this period of our lives over that of the foolish willfulness and disregard we demonstrated later and even after later. In commemorating the genesis of this thing, I can only seem to think about its departure.

People were generous with their compliments. These people who encouraged the next 7 year roller/trapeze/talent show/audition that we endured with each other were our friends we went to school with. Like any good divorce story, there are some I am still friends with, and some that I’ll not ever need be in touch with again.

I’ve spent the past 13+ years since the unfortunate demise of Scarlet Haven celebrating some vague sense of the passage of time every year on the Tenth of December. What I’ve not really experienced is the completion of grief; it hasn’t completely passed yet.

Everyone deserves the opportunity to really bathe in the kind of unfortunate circumstance that you know will stain you for a long time to come. The saying goodbye of the only true dreams your adult life had known up to that point is the stuff of novels.

These days, the memory is like a mostly-removed tattoo that is not at all ever visible to the public. Most times, you can’t even see it in private.

What I’ve recognized after the past few days of listening to our short entries in to the annals of “art rock,” as we all called it (or “art fag” as Court famously uttered on air with Shred on WBCN) is that now, twenty years on, I feel exactly the same about all of it as I did then, as I did upon our farewell, and all the years since. This was vital, and ultimately too precious, music that had an ability to stretch and reach people beyond what we ever had imagined. We were pleased and humbled to be vessels for it, but this ceased being enough for us later on.

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Of the members of the band that have chosen to stay in touch… I’ve forgiven Joseph for being stubborn and hotheaded. I’ve certainly forgiven Jenny for boycotting band meetings for the last 2 years of our career. They weren’t a pleasant place to be. I’ve even forgiven Aaron for being an incendiary jackass.

Everyone wants to entertain a “what if” scenario about a concert or some sort of thing. Whenever this date or any other such occasions come up, there’s always a small bit of chatter about “well, why not?” I’ll tell you: there’s too many questions about what went wrong and why and what has happened since then; too little meaningful discussion. This applies especially to the fate of the masters of our final recording sessions that we had been demoing for labels and have been just out of our grasp for the past 13 years for reasons no one knows.

For that reason, and for the hope of celebrating something that was to be, I wanted everyone to get a chance to hear those recordings, if you hadn’t already. Believe me, they are certainly demos. I hope you’ll hear the same sense of optimism we were clinging to at that point.

The fact that anyone has ever remembered our little mark we tried so hard to make more permanent is such a rare gift to have been given. The weather was a little little rougher than we had anticipated, and it continues to degrade what had been exposed to time. It might forgive, but I can’t quite figure out what it forgets.

Don Campbell and Band Bring Dan Fogelberg Music to “207”

Maine and NH friends, please catch WCSH 6 tonight for their “207” program at 7pm to see Don Campbell along with the rest of the band (including yours truly). We shared 2 songs from the “Kites to Fly” CD in preparation for our shows this weekend in Camden and Kennebunk.

For everyone that is “from away,” here’s the video.

A big thanks to Rob, Beckie, Danny, and everyone at “207.” It’s always great to be a part of what you do.

“Show Band” hits the digital “shelves”

Show Band (Miss Fairchild)
Show Band (Miss Fairchild)

Miss Fairchild’s excellent record “Show Band” hits the digital stores today. The limited-edition CD run was put together as a special partnership with my hometown brewery, Cisco Brewers. And now, the whole world gets to check it out!

I played percussion tracks on a few cuts off of this record, and I love how it turned out. Feel free to take a listen here before you buy.

As a former member of Miss Fairchild’s touring band, I can attest to the fact that the show really does sound and feel like this recording. They really did a great job conveying this awesomely electrifying (and now very large) live band. Big ups to frontman Daddy Wrall, aka my kid brother Travis.

When words fail us…

Will Barnet 1911 – 2012

Read his obituary by Bob Keyes at the Portland Press Herald here.

Painters, among other visual artists, hold much magic for me. I wasn’t particularly gifted in this area, but I have always gravitated towards visual arts. Many artists and their works have, unknowingly, served as a much-needed visual foil to my music, whether on stage or in the studio.

So, I was completely devastated to hear about the passing of my favorite painter, Will Barnet. At the wonderfully blessed age of 101, Mr. Barnet left us with decades of work and thought to ponder and pick apart.

I have never felt this kind of connection to an artist outside of my own disciplines. His work feels alive and timeless, wizened and fresh, all at the same time. He told rich stories with no words.

I’ve already had to correct myself once; I can’t ever allow myself to refer to Mr. Barnet’s art and work in the past. He has achieved immortality.

Godspeed, Mr. Will Barnet. I can’t ever thank you properly for igniting an imagination in me that I didn’t know existed.

“Nanook” Available In Digital Format!

I’m thrilled that my friend Sumner McKane has a new online store for his recordings, and he has included our work from last year, Nanook. The score for the silent film “Nanook of the North” was written in 4 weeks in 2009, and refined over a limited number of shows over a two year period. This was recorded and released in a very limited physical CD run last year, and received generous airplay from our good friend John Deliberto from the nationally-syndicated NPR show “Echoes.”

“Nanook” remains one of the works I am proudest of, and am so excited that it is now available for download, straight from Sumner’s website in a variety of file formats.

Please check it out at http://sumnermckane.bandcamp.com/album/nanook