Friday, June 29

Chris Stamey - Exclusive Q & A

Chris Stamey Talks
new book, next album & much more 
* exclusive Q & A for the Repercussion Blog *
CHRIS STAMEY: in Philadelphia performing for World Caf√© Live earlier this year
all photos are by the great Chris Sikich, who kindly gave his permission for their use here

QUESTION: Your new book, A Spy in the House of Loud, persuaded me you have an impressive memory for detail, vividly recalling incidents that took place three or four decades ago. Do you have a photographic memory, or something close to it?
ANSWER: Nothing like that. I did try to fact check, and Peter, Will, Mitch, among others, helped "watch my back." I think we all have moments in our lives that seem vividly detailed and that stand out even years later; I just wrote about my own such moments, so it was easy.

You didn’t set out to write the book it became, but ASITHOL turned into an engrossing read. Might there be another book down the road?
I am threatening to write a sequel, called In Remembrance of Things Fast. I doubt I will, really, but I do like that title. I'm working on a small-ensemble play set in 1970s Philly, called tentatively either "The Piano" or "Give My Regards to Off-Broadway (Remember Me to Rittenhouse Square)". (not kidding)

For his recent book-and-songs tour, Chris brought a violinist & cellist to accompany him 
In the book, you share numerous stories about playing and recording with Alex Chilton. You’re also the founder and musical director for the Big Star Third Live project that began in 2010 after Chilton’s death. Is your work with Chilton, Chris Bell, Jody Stephens and BS3rd Live as significant to you as the music you created with The dB’s and as a solo artist?

I'm most interested in the music I write myself. I like all those folks, but also a lot of midcentury-modern "classical" and jazz music. I mostly listen to the latter two, currently. In high school, I liked the Big Star and Ardent recordings a whole lot. But it was more being around Alex for that time in NYC, and learning from him, that was significant for me. The Big Star Third concerts came from more of a "dare," "could we do it?" I am not obsessed about that music, though, certainly not compared to some of the guest singers we had. It was a great group of people to hang out with, though. 

all CS photos by Chris Sikich
The book includes amusing stories about your involvement in bands in and around Winston-Salem during your student days. It was published in May about the same time as “Yesterday’s Tomorrow”, a one-night reunion of many of the same N.C. bands you describe in the book. Did the book inspire the live event?
The concert at the RamKat in Winston on May 12 was completely inspired by the book, but happened at the instigation of Richard Emmett, who runs that club. And each act was preceded by relevant projected "Star Wars style" text from the book. We filmed and recorded (multitrack) the whole event, but I don't know if it will ever get edited. Doug Davis singing the Captain Speed songs with Mitch on guitar and Robin Borthwick on drums was amazing, though! And I never thought that Rittenhouse Square would ever play together again! I got to sing "Hot Smoke and Sassafras" with R2, and that was so cool — I never sang in the band back in the day.

The book focuses on your time in and around NYC and, to some degree, your memories and ongoing reflections about those times and the people you met along the way. But you also come across as someone who’s proud of your North Carolina roots and some of the music being created today in the Triangle area. Is this an accurate assessment?

I love North Carolina and it's wonderful to be back in Chapel Hill, where I was born. For me, it's the best. The book has a restricted focus, as do most books; it was originally called New York Songs but I was the only one who liked that somewhat bland title. I was not trying to write any kind of autobiography (so it didn't seem weird to have so little about NC in there), and in fact I don't think there's all that much "reveal" about myself in general in it, except inadvertently. It's mostly about music.

Another project! Chris' New Songs song book
At the book store appearance I attended in Asheville, N.C., you played a new song you and Peter Holsapple have worked on. Will the song be included in another duo project, or is it too soon to tell?
I have a new record in the can, called The Great Escape, that is 95 percent finished, and will be 100 as soon as I can find two weeks free to do this. Peter was kind enough to sing on a few tracks with me, including "Greensboro Days," the song in question. "The One and Only," about Van Dyke Parks, is also on this unreleased collection.

You’ve produced and otherwise collaborated with numerous musicians — some very well known and others not so much. Of projects in the latter category I’ve had the pleasure of hearing, Peter Blegvad’s King Strut and Other Stories is my favorite (Chris co-produced it with Peter B., and Peter Holsapple played / sang on most of the tracks). Do you have any that stand out for you?
Cover of Peter Blegvad's
King Strut & Other Stories
sadly out of print, but worth finding

I do really like that Peter Blegvad record you mentioned, he's great. I like both of the Le Tigre records I did quite a bit. There are a few albums I did with Ryan Adams and Whiskeytown that have never come out that I'm fond of. Skylar Gudasz made a very nice record [Oleander] a few years ago. It's a hard one, I generally am fond of all of the records I've worked on — if I don't find parts of a project to fall in love with, I usually don't do the record. I collaborated with Kirk Ross, who does prepared guitar textures, and I love the record we did together, The Robust Beauty of Improper Linear Models of Decision-MakingThere's a "radio musical" called Occasional Shivers I did with a lot of people — Branford Marsalis, Bill Frisell, Millie McGuire, Django Haskins, lots more, and it was a delight — it's a free podcast now, on iTunes. I'm most excited about the record I'm making with Millie McGuire right now. I just got back from writing a new song for her with Dan Wilson (Semisonic, Adele, Taylor Swift) that we are all excited about.

ROB SEZ: As you can surmise from the interview, Chris has multiple irons in the fire. I'm grateful for his willingness to take the time for this Q & A. Thank you kindly, Chris.

Thursday, June 28

Chris Stamey - Asheville, N.C. appearance

Reading & Live Performance
Malaprop's book store
Asheville, N.C.
June 18, 2018
Chris at Malaprop's book store in Asheville in June. He was accompanied by (at left) Melissa Alderman (daughter of Little Diesel lead singer Bob Northcott) on violin and Paula Peroutka (sister of UNC-Chapel Hill violinist faculty member Leah Peroutka) on cello.
ROB SEZ: I attended the Asheville, N.C. stop on Chris' recent book tour. I expected the usual thing: author reads excerpts from book, fields questions & generally holds forth before signing books and saying goodnight. Not Mr. Stamey. There were book excerpts, yes, but WAY more than that: instrumental preludes and "soundtracks" for the book excerpts, leading into live performances of full-blown songs. Not only did Chris sing and play acoustic guitar, accomplished string players also played intricate arrangements orchestrated by Chris. In short, it was an evening I will long remember.
The 40 or so attendees were treated to excerpts from Chris' book, often accompanied by instrumental lead-ins to the songs discussed in the book. Afterwards, Chris signed copies of
A Spy In the House of Loud: New York Songs & Stories.
Chris played a few new songs at Malaprop's: "Greensboro Days" and "The One & Only (Van Dyke Parks)". See the Q & A with Chris for more.

Friday, June 22

Real Estate - Iowa City, IA 2015 + SxSW 2017

Mission Creek Music Festival 
The Englert Theatre
Iowa City, Iowa
April 2, 2015
soundboard-audience matrix recording (quality: Ex-)
SAMPLE: "Crime" (live, Iowa City 2015) 

01 intro
02 Kinder Blumen 
03 Had to Hear
04 Suburban Dogs
05 Crime
06 Municipality
07 The Bend
08 It's Real
09 April's Song
10 Beach Comber
11 Easy
12 Younger Than Yesterday
13 Talking Backwards
14 All the Same
15 encore break
16 How Might I Live?
17 Green Aisles
Waterloo Records
SxSW Festival
Austin, TX
March 17, 2017 
FM recording
(sound quality: VG++) 
01 Saturday
02 Stained Glass
03 Holding Pattern
04 Green Aisles
05 Had to Hear
06 Darling
07 Serve the Song
ROB SEZ: When Real Estate started getting noticed 6 or 7 years ago, I didn't buy the hype. But the band's music has come into its own more recently, and I think Real Estate now deserves all the praise it's getting. If you like dreamy, somewhat folky jangle pop that's well-played & sung, check out Real EstateThe Iowa City recording was shared by cyfan, and klasw gets the praise for the SxSW recording. Thank you both.
Learn more about Real Estate's music 
at the band's official site, AllMusic & Wikipedia

Tuesday, June 19

Mark Mikel - 35th Anniv. Concert 2013 (sbd)

35th Anniversary Concert 
Maumee Indoor Theatre
Maumee, OH
Nov. 23, 2013

soundboard recording (quality: VG++; audio rip from concert video; there's a bit of distortion here and there, but it's only occasional)

01 Thou Doth Warm Me (Like the Sun)
02 I Could Never Be a Bird
03 Black Sombrero
04 Undecided
05 Plastic Surgical Holiday — Paper Aeroplanes 
06 Mark speaks + song intro
07 Backwards Evolution
08 Dive Bombing Space Pigeons
09 Merely Stacking Chairs
10 Feeding Seagulls
11 Girl On a Laser Beam
12 Epapo Funk
13 Don't Listen to Your Head
14 Dream Away
15 Peasant Girls
16 It Seems You Are So Happening (instrum.)
17 Buzz for Aldrin
18 Good to Be Alive
19 In the End (You're Moving On)
20 Scream (Electric Dreams)
21 Idiot Smile
22 Sam the Computer
23 Out In the Midnight Rain
24 Day Tripper
25 Eleanor Rigby
26 Tomorrow Never Knows
27 Just Another Lifetime Please (pre-recorded)

Featured musicians for the evening: Jeff Kollman, Bill Hubauer, Zak Freed, Ian McCormack, Brad Babcock and The Monclovian 1st Irrational String Quartet

ROB SEZ: Here's a far-ranging musical event to commemorate 35 years in music for Mark Mikel, leader of The Pillbugs & producer for many other groups / projects. The set mixes early and later Mark Mikel solo material along with Pillbugs songs. Mikel recruited many friends for the show, which means there are some transcendent moments (eg, songs that feature the string quartet) and some that border on self-indulgence (eg, extended guitar solos, etc.). If you're a Pillbugs fan, you will find much to like. If you're a Mark Mikel fan, you might already have the DVD that's the source for this audio rip (the DVD is pretty much impossible to find anywhere this many years later). ALL PRAISES to Mark for sharing the full concert online, and to Mick for finding a setlist for me (thank you, my musical friend: you always come through).
Enjoy Mark Mikel's music at Bandcamp

Friday, June 15

Pillbugs (Mark Mikel) - Live & Rare 2002-2012

Live & Rare 2002-2012
various locations, dates, recording info 

soundboard & audience recordings
(quality range: VG to Ex-)

SAMPLE: "Comburda" (live NYC 2002)

01 The World's Most Harmless Villain (live)
02 Comburda (live)
03 Peasant Girls (live)
04 All In Good Time (live)
05 Charlie Blue Car (live)
06 Pretend You're 
     Not Home (live) 
07 And the Days Go By (live)
08 And the Days Go By (demo)
09 Alluring Martha (demo)
10 Closer (studio demo)
11 One Slummy Day
12 When She's Gone
13 Sweet Girl
14 The Future of 
     Computers (live)
15 Out In the Midnight Rain (live)
16 Son of Shirley (live)
17 The Kick-Around Boy (live)

01-06 = Arlene's Grocery, New York, N.Y. Dec. 2002 
(Int'l Pop Overthrow Fest)
07 = Mark Mikel & Sono Novo Chamber Ensemble, 
Trinity Episcopal Church, 2011-05-21
08 = Mark Mikel demo (undated - 
special thanks to adamic for sharing)
09 = song & demo by Mark Kelley, with 
Mark Mikel and Dan Chalmers
10 = with false starts, live in the studio 2004 
11-13 = Mark Mikel recordings, undated (special 
thanks to adamic for sharing)
14 & 15 = Live on 'The Man Cave' 
with Jeff Lamb 2012-04-08
16 & 17 = Arlene's Grocery, New York, N.Y. Aug. 2004

ROB SEZ: This is a collection of latter-day Pillbugs & Mark Mikel live & rare tracks I put together recently. The first 6 are from the band's performance at the 2002 International Pop Overthrow in NYC, and were recorded with multi-track recording gear: they sound amazing. If you like your rock & pop with a psychedelic edge, check out The Pillbugs and Mark's solo releasesPARTICULAR THANKS to Mark & The Pillbugs for generously sharing so many ROIOs over the years.

Wednesday, June 6

New Peter H album in July!

Game Day
due July 27 from Omnivore Recordings

pre-order now to get a bonus 7" single
(bonus single is the 2017 release Don't Mention the War / Cinderella Style)
If you don't already own Peter's 1997 solo album Out of My Way, buy it here.
Preview video from Omnivore with several song snippets

Here's what Peter says about the album at his blog:

I played almost every note on the record. I recorded and mixed it in my basement studio. I'm so far inside this record I'm breathing dryer lint. So any semblance of objectivity about it and its chances at being loved by the general populace is nil.
The best thing is I did the record all by myself (that may also be the worst thing I did), and it's absolutely the record I wanted to make. People will undoubtedly hear it and scratch their heads and say it sounds weird and eccentric, at least I hope so.

(read the rest of Peter's comments — including plans to play live 
with Will Rigby on drums)

First solo album in 21 years from 
the veteran musician and songwriter.

Omnivore Recordings says:

You would think being an integral member of one of the most beloved power pop bands, the dB’s, would be enough for a guy and his resum√©. But no, Peter Holsapple just had to tour with R.E.M. and Hootie & The Blowfish, join Continental Drifters, and collaborate with John Hiatt, Indigo Girls, The Troggs, The Cowsills, Juliana Hatfield Three, Better Than Ezra, and so many others. Not one to rest on laurels, Peter has continually been in motion since his first recordings in 1972 with Rittenhouse Square.

Perhaps that’s why he’s releasing his first solo album in 21 years—he’s been a busy, busy man. And, as Peter himself says, “And it’s really ‘solo,’ too! I played and sang 99 44/100ths of the notes on this record. I wanted to be responsible for all of it, so I dove deep inside myself and the songs and came up with Game Day.”

Game Day contains 13 new tracks, a bonus track, and two “super bonus tracks”—Holsapple’s critically acclaimed single “Don’t Mention the War” b/w ”Cinderella Style,” originally released in 2017. “After putting the single out on my own last year, I made the decision to put out an album. Some tunes are brand new, some have been in rotation for a bit, but all are worthy. My ‘middle-aged Pet Sounds fantasy’ is real, with the issues of middle age put to memorable melodies. The old guy at work in ‘Tuff Day,’ watching my parents’ place get cleared out in ‘Inventory,’ a decades-late thank-you note to a college girlfriend in ‘Commonplace’—they’re all a part of the present-day me.”

Game Day is prime Holsapple, whose recording career spans nearly five decades. It contains all the hooks, clever lyrics, and deft instrumentation one would expect. As he paraphrases Jeff Beck in the packaging, “Today, with all of the hard competition in the music business, it’s almost impossible to come up with anything totally original. So I haven’t, but I had a lot of fun making Game Day, and I hope it comes through when you hear it.”


You need this, right? OK, go order it.

Friday, June 1

Don Dixon, M. Crenshaw, etc. - Boulder, CO 1992 (sbd)

'In Their Own Words' 
The Fox Theater
Boulder, CO
May 28, 1992

soundboard recording (quality: VG; sounds like a 2nd- or 3rd-generation tape source)
The greatness of Don Dixon extends all the
way down to his Chuck Taylors...

01  Cheap Chatter (cuts in)
03  Walkin' Around *
04  If She Knew What She Wants + 
05  Your Man of Steel ^
06  [untitled, unfinished song]
08  Someday Someway *
09  Much Too Much +
11  Darlene ^
12  Borrowed Time
14  Your First Love *

01  If We Never Meet Again +
02  Hometown ^
03  Renaissance Eyes (fades in)
05  (You're My) Favorite Waste of Time *
06  All Through the Night +
07  Rain Just Falls ^
08  Dark End of the Street 
10  Julie *
11  Love Hurts +
12  Didn't He Know? ^

Don Dixon (no symbol)  *Marshall Crenshaw
+Jules Shear   ^David Halley
(James McMurtry also performed, but his performances & comments are not included here. This explains the funky numbering: McMurtry's stuff would've appeared where numbers have been skipped.)

ROB SEZ: I usually don't go in for a lot of chit-chat between songs, but I'll make an exception for talent like Marshall Crenshaw, Don Dixon & Jules Shear. Each singer takes the lead on 5 of his own songs or a choice cover, and much of the talk about songs & song-writing is a pleasure to hear. MEGA THANKS to lilpanda for another of his extraordinary shares. (Don Dixon & Marti Jones fans take note: be sure to poke around a bit for the bonus share.)