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This Sunday, I’m going to be spinning weird records at Brillobox in the good ol’ PGH. Which is great, because I can finally get myself a pair of skinny jeans. DJing on vinyl at Brillobox is basically like getting blackout in Hipster Bingo.

It should be a fun night. I’ve been going through my stacks of vinyl in the studio looking for prime cuts to play. I’ve been leaning heavily towards the odd and obscure. I tend to enjoy buying random albums from cutout bins and thrift stores. I usually don’t care what I get. If a record has an interesting name, or weird cover art, I’ll buy it. Thrift store vinyl usually goes from $0.50 to $2 a record. If I get a stack of ten or twenty discs, I’m not out much money. If I find three records that I like, I’m ahead of the game. Usually I’ll find some good sample fodder for my music as a bonus. I’ve found some real gems over the years, several of which I will be playing on Sunday.

I’ve named the event, Pop Garbage because I think of these records as the lost and discarded sounds of our popular past. Records that were pressed and then mostly forgotten about until someone needed to clean out their living rooms or decided that it was time to put away childish things. These records were once cherished items, that now collect dust and molder in stacks in the back corner of thrift stores. Some of them are records by once chart topping giants, and some by virtual unknowns. All of them are trash now. Most of the artists are long gone from the scene (if they ever were really in it to begin with). Some turn out to be small vanity releases. Those are the saddest records. When I play them, I am hearing the sound of someones dream that never became a reality. They either quit trying to “make it” or died without “arriving”. Either way, their proud moments end up in the rubbish heap of culture. I try to honor them, even when their work is ridiculous. They put their heart into it. After all, in the end, my work may end up in the bone yard with them.

In any event, if you are anywhere near Pittsburgh (specifically Lawrenceville) on Sunday the 20th around 9pm, you should come out to spend some time with me and my records. If enough people show up, I’ll get to do it again. I’ve got too many records to play in one night!

POP GARBAGE @ Brillobox

Music That Makes You Go Hmmmm…

 

Yes. I know. I promised you things:

Trip reports.
Photos.
Me not being silent.
Candy and cake.
A third gorram season of Twin Peaks!

But, it just didn’t work out. I had a big trip report nearly ready to go about everything that happened right before Life Is Good started, but then Life Is Good started. I got caught up in the whole business of the conference and hanging out with people I haven’t seen in forever and meeting new people. And I’m lazy. And after the end of the conference, I went to Las Vegas to spend a week having a father+son vacation with my dad.

Do you think I got much writing done in Las Vegas? Of course I didn’t, but I finally got to see Penn & Teller.

After that, I headed back to Pittsburgh and my family, and had to take a few days to decompress and recover from the desert heat. As soon as I felt like doing any work, I went to the computer with every intention of posting all the details and photos. I ended up working on music. And that was going so well that I just had to keep going at it. Then our cat Lain died. He just suddenly keeled over and was gone. Kind of took the wind out of my sails for a bit.

The bad news for you, my friends, is that a Trip Report is going to be long in coming (if it comes as all), and when it does it just might be a mad and unorganized photo dump. I’m sorry.

The good news is that my Red Lauan Tree project is about to release a new record. It’s one of the best records that I have ever written. I’m really proud of it. It’s a mostly ambient affair. On the dark side, but not oppressive in its sound. I think that I walked the edge between sounds very well. There is a ton of live and analog instrumentation buried under the layers of the final mix. But it’s not the kind of album that uses rainsticks and wind-chimes as instruments. Think more along the line of Coil’s Unnatural History or the song Radio Void by Chris & Cosey. But not really at all. It is its own thing. I guess that means that I’m finding my voice musically!

Here is a preview track:

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/98612874″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

 

The full album clocks in at just about an hour long and I expect it to be out by the end of the week.

Oklahoma isn’t where I was born, and it isn’t where I live now. But Oklahoma is the place that I always will consider home. It’s where I grew up. It’s the place that for better or worse made me the person that I am now. It’s where I got married. Had a kid. Held someone’s hand as they died. I am an Oklahoman. I grew up and was tempered in 105 degree summers. I was threatened by Klansmen and was protected by gutter punks from Nazi skinheads. I hosted a million parties. Read a billion poems. Hugged a trillion people. At one point, it seemed as if at least half of the state had spent time in my living room, or passed out in a corner of my bedroom.

The state of Oklahoma is both physical and mental. The physical space was just violated by the whims of Mother Nature. The Finger Of G-d came down out of the sky and erased a town or two. This happens on occasion in Oklahoma. It’s tragic, but it is also one of the things that make Oklahoma strong. We grow up there knowing that at any moment the sky might open up and swallow us up. I remember being a teenager. I was at some tacky all-ages show. One of those five bands for five bucks things that we used to do. Between bands we would go outside and sip cheap vodka out of the plastic handle and play hackey-sack and smoke cigarettes that we bought at Ziggy’s or the Asian run cornershop that didn’t ID. This time the tornado sirens went off. We all stopped and looked at the sky. A thin spindle of a funnel formed across the parking lot and tracked towards us. In front of us was this approaching menace, behind us was only this club and its massive plate-glass windows.

At that moment we were all transported into the mental state of Oklahoma. The state of mind that grows up knowing that your card could be pulled at any time. The state of mind that makes your first thoughts when staring down your possible death, “if I live through this, I’m going to have to help everyone else”.

Because that is what people from Oklahoma do. In the face of disaster, they help. They put aside any differences and help. They ignore the fact that Red Oak, OK is named after the lynching tree in town and help. They forget that they are feuding with their neighbors and help. They help and hurt and pray and help some more. They rebuild.

I was there for the May 3rd, 1999 tornadoes. I gave time and money and helped out however I could. We rebuilt.

On April 19th of 1995, I went downtown with countless others and began the process of digging out the rubble of the Alfred P. Murrah building. In the dust, we all looked the same. Like Oklahoman’s. Like people who struggle and care and help and rebuild.

Right now, I don’t know if everyone that I know personally is alive. Even now, I am still getting the reports in. The one thing that I do know is that nobody is alright. The state is too small, and ties are too tight for it to be otherwise. Even as long as I have been away, I feel the wound in my heart and in my home.

We’ll rebuild.

 

Please, if you have the ability to do so, donate something. If you don’t live in Oklahoma, the Red Cross is probably your best bet.