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Always Run Up the Stairs

Barry Burford’s right. I’ve got unreleased material dating back to 2011.

Kenmore WA, 4 February 2018. Photo by Kurt Clark / kurtclark.us

[On Facebook] This is a long post. The longest in 70,000 posts of long posts. It will be published on my blog but I wanted to write it here first so I can tag some of the people that deserve credit for the answer.

Codewars – Incursion

I have four albums in various stages of production, including Somewhat Seven (Love & Blackmail), Temple of Zither (Parchment), Xenia Effect (Curtain Man) & videos going all the way back to Smokehouse, Falling & Tequila Haze. Guitar kata & static flux dancing ray tracing. Location shots from Lynnwood to downtown Seattle, the rooftops of Amazon to Kenmore to Redmond & continuous tracking shots all the way from here to downtown, through the Tacoma Narrows at 100mph and on the ferry in the middle of the night with the wind blowing through my trenchcoat with Seattle’s best voice & notorious rocker frontman for Ten Miles Wide Johndus Beckman on the camera.  Production shots with model Seattle’s hottest model Dani May Red, the ultimate femme fatale, and an incredible collection of stills by Kurt Clark.

Rango & Dani. Kenmore WA, 4 February 2018. Photo by Kurt Clark / kurtclark.us

Giving it up at the smokehouse

Giving it up at the smokehouse

There’s even 2-story tall projection shots with me dancing in the middle of the night in front of a projector in my backyard, the shadow dancer series for an unreleased final Smokehouse video performing to the background video from my collaboration with LZ / Elton John producer Stuart Epps.

Etherati

Etherati

From my purvey my first album Etherati was a limited artistic success. In my book you get points for just getting it done. I wrote & performed everything, recorded, produced, published & promoted it. It landed me on internet radio, on FM stations & led to my collaboration with LZ / Elton John producer Stuart Epps, Smokehouse. I met people like Aaron Joy, Dianne Murray & Lacy Phillips that put me on their shows. I was doing interviews. I locked in with Sabrina Pena Young & her virtual opera Liberteria.

Base hit.

The album suffered from programmed drums, low-quality vocal recordings & failure to ignite an essential organic component. The result was a lack of dynamics, pedantic songwriting, inneffective conveyence of storyline in the lyrics, more character study & a timid failure to utilize simple musical techniques like shifting tempos to evoke tension. Not enough Bugs Bunny. I didn’t have control of my voice then (work in progress, been seriously focused on it last two years). And it was only 5 songs, an EP, because it was cut short by a tragedy before I could finish it.
But I did it. I level up. I’ve wanted to make an album since I was little boy. My brother played trumpet & was of course my hero so I used to sit in his room listening to everything from Star Wars to Jungle Book to Stanley Jordan to Kraftwork, imagining myself playing along, air guitar on the bed. In my mind I could play it all, guitar, saxophone, drums & belting it out. I conducted the orchestra like just like Bugs Bunny did because that was solid.
Smokehouse Mountain

Smokehouse Mountain

The Meadows are a musical family. In the summers the family would drive from Michigan to the mountains of West Virginia & my dad’s brothers would play their instruments. Guitar, bass, fiddle, anything with strings. Everyone was drinking. The wives would vocalize & I would fall asleep on the floor.

I wish people still did that today, it makes the world a better place & it’s an essential human bonding experience that should be nourished. It should be cherished. You could sing before you could speak. You could dance before you could sing.

As an elementary student I started on clarinet like my sister. In 4th grade I had a music teacher, Mr Linderman, that sent me home with a cassette tape of the bird, coltrane, dizzie & armstrong. I chose the bird & scored an alto saxophone the next day.  When I graduated high school my mom bought me an old nickel plated saxophone, now 100 years old & the horn I used to
I also started going to a special school downtown, twice a week. Two of us from each school. Chris Armitage’s dad taught us to program Tandy Model I’s by typing in Basic from computer magazines. And we had classes in modern dance from an instructor named Mindy Mcafee. There was no music, she would snap her fingers & make clicking sounds with her mouth to establish rythmn & flow. She demonstrated how we should respond as if she was a mirror, by mimicing us & showing the difference between our pose & hers. To be so informed.
We also had classes in archeology, thinking & problem solving where we learned things like Bloom’s Taxonomy. Correct me if I’m wrong but there was a little girl there that would grow up to star on the X-Files.
Parents objected that the school was elite, and they were right. Everyone I grew up with should have been given that same opportunity. Digging in the sand, making up cultures for other students to inspect & research so you could learn perspective & critical thinking, asking questions about your hypothesis & have them refuted by the party that created the fossils. Learning to sit mindfully to understand your body’s resistance to posture & rythmn so you could control it. Learning to code because all science defers to computer science (information theory was established in the 50’s, the computers came later but the writing was on the wall). Type type type, out of a hobbyist magazine. Why did you type that? Next class, sit up straight & breathe, from your belly. Next class, what do you think that fossil means?
Life chisels you. Those two days a week changed my life.
I played in all the bands & sang in all the choirs. I played alto & bari saxophone & learned fundamentals & musical attitude from teachers like James Sawyer & Leonard Allman <= ( they also let me help with the music office computer, an Apple II. Can we get a golf clap, a boquet of flowers & a bottle of top-shelf spirits for these guys. Someone present them the golden chisel while I cry)

Russian pinwheel in sailor suit, Ken Tepper studio.

By 12 I was dancing. I was a cub scout, and one day the mail showed up with a Boy’s Life magazine featuring a photo shoot of Edward Villella. There were photos of him tossing around a baseball, everyone from Michigan does that. And a famous photo of him jumping six feet in the air, cut like a knife. Chiseled like Spiderman but real. Prodigal Son.

“Attitude is altitude” – overheard
I road my bike to the library. I looked up ballet in the encyclopedia. I saw pictures of Nijinski, Nureyev & Barishnikov. I was astonished. The imprint was so strong I remember each of those photos to this day, they are famous because they are sublime.
I told my mom. She didn’t know how to tell my dad, being from West Virginia. But she took me to a studio, I started lessons with Ken Tepper, a Vietnam War hero living the post-traumatic dream in a studio in downtown Grand Rapids. He taught ballet, tap & jazz. We learned from Michael Jackson videos & worked tap fundamentals at the barre. The tap shoes were like obnoxious drums for your feet, sounded awful, all high end like a symbol (now there’s a million dollar idea Thommie Retter we need to talk about this). I tapped before & after class, on the weekends. I’m a fidgiter so instead of finger drumming I’d work it out in the breezeway, in the garage. Never the basement.
Not until months later. Not until I found the hambone, just for a moment. A fleeting, ephemeral understanding of something ancient. The ebb & flow of lymbic disassociation and rythmn that disconnects you from the mechanics of what you’re doing & comes out of you snarling. It’s a headspace that’s a Lagrange point between a trance and a smile.
It was ephemeral but I got it. You can summon it. It’s a spell, you can play with it if you’re careful but it will vanish before you’re done with it. So I went to the bottom of the steps & put my tap shoes on. I had I had been running up those stairs as long as I could remember.
You run up those stairs. That’s the spot of the nightmare. A child-sized troll face staring at you from the dark space between the washer & dryer. You’re standing there, paralyzed, looking at those eyes. You can’t breathe. You can’t scream. It creeps through the shadows & crosses the drain under the lightbulb. It’s moving in slow motion, crawling over the dirty laundry, a snake hunting a rabbit with the patience & promise of a slow meal. Little boys are delicious. The nightmare does not speak, it only smiles. Naked with a jester’s hat. Curly shoes with little bells that ring with each step. It’s a he.
You always run up the stairs.
Silly stuff to a 12 year old. You’re as smart as any man, nightmares are just nightmares. It’s the basement, it has a dark room, unfinished lightbulbs & two furnaces, one of which you can only light with a match.  So I taunted him, I invited him. I pointed my fingers & clenched my fists & shouted at that dank spot by the drain where he lives. I jammed my heels into the floor & made sounds that would let him know I was waiting for him. Harder & I would have split the foundation. A sliver of me fractured off with every strike, knowing what was coming. I carved out a circle of protection on the floor, scraping runes into the concrete with the cheap metal on my feet. I found a whisper, coached it into a cadence & conflated it into a prayer.
He didn’t show. I gave up. I was exhausted. My lungs were burning, the room stunk of sweat & the basement furnace. You could never trust that thing, I half expected the damn house to burn down at any moment. I looked up the stairs, too tired to think about it & my heart skipped a beat. Because you can’t not think about it. I was a big boy now, I knew I could get up in three steps, you just need to pick them out before you run. Tap shoes are slippery so land every step.
Ready, set, blink. There he was. Those eyes. Back there, lurking in his dank space. Looking at me looking at him.  The jingle of a bell.
“I can see you.”
I opened my arms.
“What are you going to do now?”
I looked up the stairs, at the drain, at the laundry. I could see him breathing. I was breathing.
“What are you going to do? Nothing. The hambone beat you to me. Those little bells on your shoes? You’re already dead”.
I took off my bloody blades & walked up the stairs.
My dad was pissed about the scuffed up basement floor but by then my mom had told him about the dance classes & he was reconciling an uncomfortable truth. His son was going to be a dancer. By the time I was 14 it didn’t matter anymore. It was ballet every day, along with musical theater at night, local TV commercials & photo shoots for department stores.

Dancing at the Grand Rapids Festival.

By 15 I was on the path to a career, multiple classes a day, summer intensives out of state for in San Antonio & Houston. Bob Estner became my mentor. He taught me how to stand. He taught me when it was too much & not enough. He was a surrogate for my dad. He guided my hand in a way that nobody ever has or will again.

Cue the training montage.
By the time I danced at Festival my dad was my biggest fan. He took some of the first & only pictures and videos of me dancing then. Some are on my page, the rest in cold storage.
My dad loved photography. He loved me. I inherited his love and his refusal to stand down in the face of humiliation. He was missing knuckles from hitting back so hard. A genuinely sweet guy, a proper Southern gentleman whose favorite activity was to sit quietly, drink coffee & listen to the radio. Liked whiskey & beer but loyal & faithful like an old black dog. Short fuse.
I inherited everything but the quietly.
By the time he took those pictures at festival high school was a nuisance for me except for the music classes. I just wanted out.
I taunted the teachers. Charles (Luthor) Canon called me out & let me skip all the homework as long as I wrote him short stories & took the tests. I passed the tests & failed the short stories.
“You have nothing to write about” – Luthor
He was right. I was writing about cliches like werewolves & middle-aged archetypes. We were reading Invisible Man. To be so informed.
The music was the only thing worth going to school for. I played in marching band, jazz band & in a little side project with Troy McIntosh & Ken DePeal. I squeaked out lots of solos that were opportunities to screw-up and build confidence because you didn’t die, you laugh it off & just keep going. Learned jazz tunes & scatted at school concerts despite sounding like crusty white bread. Fish meet water.
Around the same time I also found the guitar in my sister’s closet & started plucking at it. Classical acoustic, nylon strings. Wide fretboard, good for spidery hands. I bought a book & tried to learn that way but reading music on guitar was a solid nope.
Mostly I sat on the front porch & noodled with it. One day I was sitting in the kitchen & thinking about the movie Excalibur. Keep in mind I was a Dungeons & Dragons disciple with my buddy R. Lincoln Johnson. I plucked out the first stanzas of a medieval theme about a powerful & violent pope. 25 years later I recorded three solo versions & finally nailed the canonical take with a duet with Whiskey Tex but there’s still no production quality version. You’ll know The Pope is coming when you hear the chimes. Right before the heads come flying over the wall.  In the grand scheme of themes nothing more than a gratuitous metal inclursion I would later come to realize was influenced by Bach’s Fugue in G-minor.
“We could smell them coming because they wore wole suits” – my mom on Nazis
I left home for good at 17 to continue my ballet studies at Houston Ballet. That’s where I met Thad Coleman, we became legendary friends. He exposed me to Led Zeppelin & Pink Floyd & corrupted my mind with his searing sense of humor & a drill sergeant voice I still use to motivate myself to do a tiny pushup when I’d rather just complain about it. Badass bass player, twice my size & an even better friend.
Within three months I quit & went back to Michigan, defeated. I had a crisis of confidence that escalated into my first bipolar depression. I literally gave up & went home. My mom did the right thing & got me to a psychologist. He did the wrong thing & tried to molest me. Sidebar that. But with the support of my teachers in Grand Rapids, my best friend Sean Collins & the staff at Houston Ballet I returned to Houston that spring. I moved in with the girl that I would eventually marry & raise a family with. Sidebar that, too.
Photo composite from the "I was no prodicgal son monologe"

Photo composite from the “I was no prodicgal son monologe”

I was a professional by 18. I left Houston, my girlfriend moved with me & to Cincinnatti & beyond. I saw the country, performed hundreds of shows coast to coast & danced on some of the greatest stages in the country with ballet & opera companies, into my mid-twenties. Landed back in Houston & trained with an amazing Russian couple. Sidebar that, too.

Back to guitar. By the time I was 19 I had given up trying to learn to read on guitar but was fascinated with the music of Satriani & Vai & Paganini along with all the ballet greats. I loved sitting in the orchestra section during rehearsals with my guitar & tracking along wishing I could be up there. I went home & cranked up Swan Lake on my Les Paul, which correspondingly was the inspiration for John William’s Darth Vader theme. It sounds as awesome as you might expect.
I became obsessed with guitar. It was my first manic bipolar episode. Spent one of my first ballet paychecks on a $2500 Les Paul Custom. It went on for years. I studied essential theory, drilled on scales, modes, arpeggios, interval-based chord construction, alternate picking, fingertapping. Paid my dues.
The fretboard slowly unlocked, at some point I grocked the relationships. My ex-wife even bought me a 12-string which I still have to this day, featured on Etherati in Falling. I’ll never forget the day I played it in front of someone. That person was my dear friend Beth Kendall, whom everyone adores because she is absolutely beautiful. It was a song about Tienemen Square. I still have it & intend to record it.  ( Sidebar: Girlfriend with bipolar who last year trashed the guitar during a manic episode.  That’s another book, Dorothy in Wonderland)
I quit dancing. Ended up in Austin rehearsing Nutcracker with a director I didn’t respect. He humiliated me in front of anyone, I walked out of rehearsal & punched a locker in a fit of abject rage.
It took a moment to absord the white-out pain of the boxer’s fracture before the adrenaline kicked in. I didn’t like that 5th metacarpal anyway. It still tells me when the rain is coming. Moments later I followed the director into his office & chewed ass in an American folk hero kind of way if you want to get fired. That was the end of the end of my dance career.
“Do you need me to drive you to the hospital?” – hand on my shoulder
No. I drove myself to the closest emergency room, awkwardly steering & shifting with my left hand. The attending orthopeodic was the husband of the principal ballerina at the company I had just quit. More awkward. Scary if you weren’t all grown up because he’s a doctor.
“This is going to hurt.”
Second white-out of the day.
“He should have pinned it” – 5 years later.
Took some time to cry in my milk & learned to write with my left hand. My dad had given me a briefcase so I filled it with guitar pedals I had built from Radio Shack after inadvertantly sniffing ozone after cutting circuit boards with R. Lincoln Johnson. Really shitty pedals, they sounded awful. The solder joints were more magma spill than electronics.
“You go to war with the army you have” – retired war criminal
I went to my local Radio Shack & they sent me to David Brod. I took off my cast right before the interview & fortunately he was not one of those hard-handshake guys. He gave me the break I needed to get back on my feet and we have remained friends since. A debt of gratitude. I bought my first PC.  Within a couple years I was programming full time, still in Austin. No time for music. While I was living in the barios in Houston my prized Les Paul got trashed by Max, a 100lb pitbull / Great Dane mix that absolutely loved. My wife agreed I should just give it up. I nailed it to my garage wall. I was a programmer now. I worked in a call center, eventually met Sam Goodner & his shotgun David Jacobson. Worked for Catapult Systems for 10 years. Had two kids.
( Saw a UFO, flew right over might head. Owned acreage. Hunted a tornado. Sidebar all of that. )
As it happened Dan Easton & Brett Hopkins worked there too. We were building market research software. And one day we discovered we were musicians. We played in Dan’s shed. Brett jumped on the drums & Dan busted out with a bass. I suggested Dan’s Fabulous Shed Band as the band name but the marketing team politely declined.  It also turned out musician Jim Martin was our new boss. He had a vinyl album, Renegade & was working on another. His wife Chris sang for Disney. We were all friends from the moment we met.
We started playing at the office twice a week. We played the company Christmas show, my first public performance with a guitar. We decided on Rush’s YYZ & Dire Straights’ Sultans of Swing. I practiced as much as I could. I bought a guitar for the occasion, an American Strat. I still have it to this day, Fiona Fender.
Rango & Fiona

Rango & Fiona

The show wrote it’s own record. That old familiar feeling. I hadn’t performed for years & never before with a guitar. Hooked again. Didn’t take long. We kept playing at the office. I became a reluctant vocalist. I wrote angry blues songs for my wife, Unsound & Wine. I wrote Tiny Monsters & American Style. It was so fun & Dan & Brett did all the heavy lifting on the recordings so I could get it together. We called the band h.a.q & Brett made some cutting artwork. Whiskey Tex hung out with us at rehearsals & started playing guitar too. Programmer, surfer, kickboxer & musician Andrew Reid joined us for random session. Legendary friends.
10 years later, we all went our seperate ways. I was on musical hiatus again, all about programming search engines. I made the pilgrimage to Seattle, to the mountain. I quit my first job within 3 months. I got a job at Microsoft programming Accessibility API’s on the Vista operating system.  My wife & kids moved there & she declared our impending divorce on Christmas day. There were cops involved, restraining orders, accusations of hacking, legal & financial problems. I temporarily lost custody of my kids with the threat seeing them again a year away. My dad died. I lost my job. I had to cover two sets of bills in Seattle with no job.  My life savings burned down overnight.
The wagon tipped over. I wrote a computer program to notify my loved ones & handle my affairs in the event of my death. I wrote a dead-man’s switch because it was a foregone conclusion. My determination to close the misery loop while ensuring the continuity of my wishes, welfare of my children & intelligent application of my limited assets was my immediate mind. I became obsessed with protecting my kids in an uncertain future after I was gone, an inevitable fact. I tried to anticipate what that life would be like for them. Rising seas. Race wars conflated by mass media. Identity theft by AI’s that sampled & impersonated voices. Targeted assassinations as common political tools. Zumwaults prowling cities & submarines with rail gains waiting to breach & destroy.
As the model formed I envisioned their life would entail survival competition among emergent minds to ensure their superiority & uniqueness. Emotional toddlers with infamous power. The neural mesh of a gathering storm of a new cold war, a new Epoch (Dean A Thomas you are my target demographic). I deep-dived into AI frameworks to make sure Plagus would respond to forward-looking events the same way I would. I codified myself, day & night. For months. So that I would not die after I was dead. And I gave it a name. Plagus.
When push came to shove I poured the tub even though Plagus wan’t ready. He never would be, software is hard. I lit the candle. And in a dire moment of absolute determination my phone rang. It was Beth Kendall. One friend can change your life with a few words. Forever in her debt, I love her without reservation.  I dry heaved my share of tears but found a way out of the tub. I tossed the boxcutter. In a singularity of conviction & regret I deleted Plagus, months & months of work. My aborted child, what is your name.
I started writing instead. I birthed #codewars, a serial novel about a programmer & his artificially intelligent toddler. The opening scene is Served. It’s the scene in the tub.
Rango Unmuzzled: Riot in the UK!!!

Rango Unmuzzled -Riot in the UK

Dr. Martin Sawyer (in honor of the best teacher I’ve ever had James Sawyer) gives up hope under the combined threat of his own creation, an emergent mind, & his prize student from St Petersburg, who earns her PHD by establishing the Emergent Commission to shut him down due the global threat of weaponized AI in a landscape of rising seas, racial violence & easily exploited autonomous agent technology. Anastasia Levina was on target to play the role & contributed script to the first cuts of Threat Model. She’s back in Russia now but I still plan to get her on camera remotely.

With the support of Beth & constant advice from my counselor Jennifer Johnstone I got back on my feet. I got another job. I wrote Emergent, an 8K word primer to Served drawing on my experience at Catapult Systems where we met with PHD’s from UT about inferring emotional tone from written content using AI. It wasn’t ready yet despite years of ontology development. But it could predict Anthrax dispersion. Plagus & Martin became my man vs. machine cliche and a corollary for my life. Plagus kills Martin’s mother in Emergent by coordinated police crossfire engineered by sampling voices over the phone lines in order to stress the threat is absolute, immediate & imperative.

This week Google passed the Turing Test.  At a minimum they faked it in mass media, which is close enough.

Always run up the stairs.

Still no music. Years of hiatus. A blackout in the record of my soul. My soon-to-be-ex-wife laughed in my face when I said I was interested in playing live shows, maybe doing a musical or something to fill the void. That’s reason enough for divorce if you’re me except for the kids. I have zero tolerance for uncalled for ad hominems & passive-aggressive humiliation. Find a softer tiger if you want to grab one by the tail.
Here comes the hard corner. Jennifer was dealing with my suicidal ideation, general grief, bipolar & loneliness. Jennifer Johnstone, it’s worth repeating. She was a wellspring of wisdom & support, every week. I was getting better. And soon I met my muse.
The Mistress wouldn’t date me at first. I was too stuffy. I invited her to the ballet. She declined. A drop-dead beautiful women, posting gorgeous pictures of her kids. Dating site bait. Not into me. I did not give up & she faded. Then one day she popped in & invited me to her apartment. I bit. Fish, meet hook. In the first minute I met her she delivered a poison kiss. Vodka & cranberry juice, stilleto boots & a corset. 7 years of sobriety burned to the ground. Rabbit meet snake. I fell in love that night.
During that time Jennifer provided me weekly navigation & artistic guidance. A beautiful woman and wise beyond her years, I was crushing on her hard before I met The Mistress, at which point I developed acute tunnel vision. She was helping me through my divorce. She convinced me to get on social media, that I could do it, that if I started writing music again it would be successful and that I would meet people that would help me build a network of friends.

I joined Facebook & uploaded Tiny Monsters & Walez to Reverbnation, Soundcloud.  Those mixes from 2001. I made a YouTube sight named after my dog Rango, who was named after our flagship Inquisite release, Durango. It was the year after my son was born. He got a Christmas puppy from a pickup trick with a spot of white paint on his tail. A boy & dog.  Rangothedog

One DJ with balls, zero dead rabbits.

One DJ with balls, zero dead rabbits.

They banned me from compensation for life after my first video, Check 1,2

But in Seattle, suddenly I was on the charts, top-20 on Reverbnation. 2 million artists across the site.  It was a social network.  Rick Frost reached out to me. Some lucky day after that I met Tim Hearn. I booked shows at the Triple Door & 88 Keys playing my old blues tunes from Austin, singing about my divorce. The Mistress came to my first show. She became my obsession, personally, sexually, musically. A muse by any other name. She fell in love too. I gave her the ultimatum that is Falling because I refuse to be shared.
I was dutiful about therapy. I took Jennifer’s advice & started writing music again. I brought her CD’s every week so she could listen to them at home. I wrote a song for The Mistress. She gave me constant encouragement & inquired about the songs & the lyrics. It was the meat of many of our sessions. She once remarked I’d never know if she came to a show because she’d be in disguise.
The Mistress & I got engaged.
Jennifer never got to hear the end of the album because she was the tragedy. Neither did anybody else, that’s where it ends. She died without my permission on a trip to visit a patient in the hospital in New Mexico. She would have done the same for anybody, the grace among us.
I have built a myth in my head that she had the CD with her the day she got on that plane & never came home. I went back to her house for weeks until I found the end of the rope. The album was dedicated to her, my dad, Sean Collins & Andrew Reid because I can still hear their voices in my head.
Waiting for Jennifer.
During this time I wrote The Mistress. I wrote Falling & Gravity. The Turk was born of another nightware & grew into his own, eventually became my first video, my theme song & the intro to my radio show. And the last song, Circles, was my most successful album on iTunes even as The Mistress dominated my indie circles. An English round guitar duet, it was supposed to be our wedding song.

The album was a financial failure. I gave up & gave it all away. To be so informed. But the cover art was gorgeous. The Mistress took those classic photos of me at Temple of Zither, she did the editing.

Rango jamming at the Temple of Zither

This is the CD cover for the 2012 release Temple of Zither.

As this was unfolding I gave up my 401K to buy us a house. We moved our families in together, all six of us. I experienced months of mania writing Smokehouse & The Ringmaster & her response was the best cover art I’ve ever had, with every character represented. Myths were born. We did a radio show together & it took off in a way the music never did.  Rango Unmuzzled.
[[ sidebar, deferred ]]
“There’s a survival kit by the door” – Plagus

The crows came eventually, and then the snow. The day the snow came was like a Michigan recess, maybe 2 inches.  I went outside with my rabbit Franklin in his plastic ball.  I had on a gas mask & a brought a survival blanket.  The sirens in the video were really happening.  I was Nero fiddling as Rome burned, with a camcorder.  A neighbor called the news & I was buzzed by a helicopter in my back yard.  I delivered monologues under the blanket to the rabbit & open-armed to the news crew.

“This rabbit has free will.  He loves me so much he will let me eat him” – [looks at rabbit]

There was no shelter, I walked straight into the storm with a rabbit, a dobro & a computer that hates me.  Both inches of it.  I went Into the Snow.  And somewhere in the snow I lost my wallet & my keys.  (during editing a year later I discovered the wallet was last seen in Into the Snow II – This is not Empire) <= much funnier.  That month I also lost my phone & my mind, then my job. I couldn’t get the mail, I couldn’t face it, and when society forced me to I burned it.

"Bodies everywhere" - Into the Snow

“Bodies everywhere” – Into the Snow

I rolled the music into the videos.  The Turk, Gravity, Ringmaster.  I rolled Tim Hearn into the plot & used his music to stab you in the heart.  I tunneled into video production with my camcorder & Nero and lost months making the video for Gravity

The Mistress left with her kids. My kids moved back in with their mom.  Chromesthesia raided my mind so hard I was sidelined. There was another troll, it lived in between the dissonance of the marble countertop & the light in the refrigerator. Too much for me. The neighbors couldn’t hear when I screamed & wouldn’t care if they did.

I started recording everything.  The clawhammer work was beyond me but Jennifer had given me a Robert Johnson book, I studied it.  In the end the guitar took hundreds of tries but the vocals were a single take, made up on the microphone after parting words.

“What are we left with?” – Mistress

Rango needed an opponent in Into the Snow.  Everybody in Seattle hates pretentious shredders from LA so they became the axis of evil.  I had a dream that I couldn’t get a job as a musician because I can’t read music & recorded myself playing the same solo repeatedly until it was a thing called Risk.  Psychedelic exploration meshed with an LA Fingertapper vs Rango head-cutting duel over an angular solo.  In the dream, after they told me I didn’t get the job, I inquired about what the music was.

“It’s what you were playing last night” – shocked awake

It became my most popular video overnight.  40,000 views on Fandalism, scores of comments.  Camcorder audio & two takes of the same solo.  It didn’t matter:

Into the Snow III – Risk

And that didn’t matter either.  The risk was real.  I couldn’t sell the house. I was under water & I was looking for work & couldn’t find the hambone. My best solution was a match.  Then Amy Trout walked in.

“What can I do to help you”.
She was beautiful, saved me from the gutter.  I was at a breaking point, the hard choice between unstable ground & the bear behind you.  She sold the house, pulled out enough money for me to live & arranged the move & the cleaners.  Worst move of my life but she saved my ass.
[[ fast forward, bypass princess bride ]]
After the dandelion that was Etherati & flameout of my life the internet became my scratchpad. Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud, Reverbnation, YouTube, Fandalism. Spotify, iTunes, Vimeo (hahaha). A fine canvas if you know how to paint or throw shit at a wall & see what sticks.
What’s coming next is more mortar fire than flower. I’ve been developing a targeting strategy, building ammunition & dialing in the shots for 7 years.
“you’re only 1/2 there. go back & find rango” – zither at the temple (the revelation)
Rango was birthed to establish a base market with comedy & build a demand for my music by exposing viewers to it in the videos. Also break their hearts by exposing them to Tim Hearn‘s music because holy shit. Legendary friendships.
So back in 2011 I analyzed the market demographics of my audience & looked for ways to expand into new cohorts. Answers included social media rain, playing live shows all over Seattle & 77 episodes of Rango Unmuzzled <= expect more of those, too.
Those first comedy videos like Check 1,2 & recursively experimental videos like Risk were produced with Windows Movie Maker or Nero & an HD camcorder. Fine for comedy & experiments, nobody cares. But that won’t due in a 4K world or anything that requires dramatic impact. And dramatic impact is my thing, I’ve had the best teachers in the world instruct me on how to walk onto a stage & own it without saying a word. Resting villain face is helpful here.
The comedy videos continued until two years ago, culminating in the silent-comedy Watch for Bumps, part of a my continuous injection of Harold Lloyd influenced humor. I used to watch reruns of his movie with my family on Saturday afternoons & we would all crack up.

The last couple years I’ve been on a steep and expensive skills aquisition curve with the Adobe toolset, creating new media collateral that will be consistent across all four of the albums. Those Static Flux Dancer shots & the Crossroad Mary projection reference video are the result of more than a year of work & during which I also aquired massive amounts of licensed video & photo media, a forward-looking investment into future projects.

Xenia Effect - Dissonance

Xenia Effect – Dissonance

I’ve also rebuilt my studio & replaced my gear & rebuilt my server. Everything is new from the cameras to the instruments & the signal processors & new MIDI software. Studio & video lighting, projector, audio interfaces. But still using Protools 2008 for my mixing & mastering, I am out of money $$$ 😎🐰
Along the way, three full albums of songs. They’re all written I’m in the process of recording or re-recording them, with all the new gear. I’m publishing lyrics first, going back nearly three years, before I commit to the music. The reference tracks are getting recorded first, me & a guitar. I’ll release those along the way. This process started last fall with FB live sessions recording Dobro Love, Tides & Crossroad Mary. Country Song happend & surged to the top of the list.  The plan is to build them out, re-record or reinstrument them, stack the vocals. Rip out some guitar solos & bass & drums, then extra sauce. Everyone loves a good saxophone solo.
As for the fourth album, it’s the collab. You know who you are. If you’re tagged here’s it’s a foregone conclusion. Some of you have been here & been recorded, and will be again. Others are weirdos like Budd Zunga. New projects are in the works, this is my favorite gang of misfit toys ever.
Here’s the short answer Barry: It takes a burrito.
Luthor Canon should be happy. I finally have something to write about.
Still can’t read music.

Strum strum 😎🐰

Act I

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