Marah On Tour

One of the best American rock bands, Marah, is going on tour this weekend.  They will first be in Fort Wayne on the 9th, Indiana, and next be in Chicago for two shows.  (10th, 11th)  If you are in either one of those areas I highly recommend going.  I will be very jealous of you.

I will admit that I am making a record with Dave and Christine of Marah right now, but I assure you that I am not biased in any way.  I had all of the Marah records long before any kind of friendship was established.

Drop whatever plans you had and go.  You won’t regret it.  Here are the details:

Marah Shows Page

That’s Life

I have been on tour for the last two weeks, greatly diminishing my ability to write.  Touring doesn’t always do this, but I’ve been a little under the weather this tour, leaving me blankly staring at the wall between gigs.  I’ve been to Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, and Tennessee.  I’ve read a Lou Reed biography and am now reading a Prince biography.  I’ve listened to more hours of music than I could possibly count.

Ted Cruz has fallen by the wayside, as Donald Trump has risen.  Bernie Sanders still hangs on by the skin of his teeth.

Do I really want to live in a world where Prince is dead and Donald Trump represents the face of one of our two main political parties?  It seems like some weird sci-fi movie where someone went into the past and fucked something up.  But it is here and it is now and that’s life.

I’ve read some interesting articles:

Andrew Sullivan tries to make sense of the rise of Trump.  I don’t agree with everything in his article, but it is a brilliant piece of writing that deserves to be pondered.  Sullivan dives into history and political theory to try and communicate just how dangerous Donald Trump is at this moment in our history.

Brittney Cooper has an interesting piece over at Salon that uses the death of Prince to talk about how our economy and culture has not only devalued black lives, but literature, music, and art as well.

 

……..

There is more, so much more, but right now I need to get my day underway before I head out to a sound check.  Just a few records worth checking out:

Kanye West – The Life of Pablo – West continues his winning streak.  For all those of you that don’t understand, West simply dreams bigger, goes further than most recording artists hight now.  He is simply one of the best producers and creates gigantic, imaginative soundscapes.  This record mixes the sacred and profane on equal levels.  A futuristic gospel record with lots of swearing?  Something like that.

The Wedding Present – Seamonsters – An early 90’s album that got lost in the shuffle between 80’s rock and the 90’s alternative movement.  A devastating series of relationship songs recorded by Steve Albini.  The textures of this album are so vivid that you feel like the album is in 3D, like you could chew on them.

Prince – 1999 – Never forget that Prince is a great album artist.  One of the things that I find shocking with this album is how he is using technology that is completely of its time, yet somehow hasn’t aged.  He is using synthesizers and drum machines that are now long outdated, but he uses them so well that it never for a second gets in the way of the enjoyment of the record.  Also for an artist often associated with sex, one should always remember that his music was always stuffed full of ideas as well.  The title track ends with a group of voices intoning, “Mommy, why does everybody have a bomb?”  I only wish there were more modern artists subverting our radio stations.

 

 

 

On Tour and New Single

On tour for the next two and a half weeks with Shinyribs.  We are touring the South.  Get dates here.

Taking with me a large group of books and records which I am excited to discuss.  Today is not the day as most of the day will be spent in the van.

I will also soon be announcing some of the first dates of my new project soon.  Check out our new free single Everyday American Thoughts here:

Everyday American Thoughts – New Single Release

What Goes On

I recently added a music page to this site.  (The link is below at the bottom of the page.)  I’ve mentioned that I am going to start releasing a series of digital singles I recorded at home.  These will lead up to a studio album later this year that is already underway.   I hope to have a new single out sometime in the next week or so, depending on how soon I can complete overdubs.

A lot of my spare time has gone into musical endeavors, but writing will commence here soon enough.  I’ve written a couple pieces about the election, but I’ve scrapped them.  What is going on often seems so absurd that it is hard to find the right words to describe it.  I have thoughts on it, but I don’t want to just contribute more noise.  The world is not lacking in noise right now.  Anytime I watch the national media, cable especially, I feel like someone has put a police siren next to my head, scrambling all thoughts.

 

My Music

I stole the title above from the Velvet Underground song:

Native Americans and Slavery

Native Americans and Slavery

A really fascinating article about the participation and victimization of Native Americans in the slave trade.  As much as I have read about Native Americans and the slave trade, a great deal of this article was still new to myself.  Yet none of it surprises me.  The history of Native people’s has always been infinitely more complex than is often acknowledged in our society.  I couldn’t help but think while reading the article that this is what unrestricted free markets look like.  (Well almost unrestricted, as there were only certain people that could be slaves at certain times.)  It is the power of the strong over the weak.  I think it is worth noting that on the very day this article was put out it was announced that 62 people hold more wealth than the bottom 3.5 billion.

A Strange Goodbye to David Bowie

Let me tell you a story.  During Christmas break I made an album with my brother, drummer Alex Moralez, and Dave and Christine from Marah.  (They produced, engineered, and played some of the instruments.)  It was recorded in their farmhouse in rural PA.  This isn’t really a story of that record, which is yet to come.  One of the songs I demoed was called Hand Coming Down.  (The title, as the song, was changed at the last minute.)  On the demo it has a bluesy feel, sounding somewhat like some of the work Paul Westerberg has done in the last 10 yrs, but slightly spookier.  It is a one chord song, which Dave had encouraged me to write some months earlier, long before there were any plans to work together.  The thing about a one chord song is that, due to its simplicity, you can take it almost anywhere.

Through the collective will of everyone, we decided to take it in more of a European direction.  Bands like The Cure, Joy Division, and Bauhaus were mentioned.  The musical track, recorded live, but without vocals, turned infinitely more spooky and menacing.

I sang the demo version, but when it came time to cut the vocal for it, I knew my brother was the only one that could do the vibe of the song justice.  We talked, before he cut it, about going in more of a David Bowie/Iggy Pop route vocally, as all of us love the work the two of them did together in the 70’s.  My brother knocked it out of the park.

The point of this story is not to talk about the record, but to point out that here in 2016, there is still music being made that is still directly influenced by the work that Bowie did many moons back.  We all know that, and we know it will continue.  Just last year I became fully reimbursed in the recordings of Bowie’s Berlin period.  This year, I started to also reinvestigate the albums that he made with Iggy Pop.  My brother has long been a torch bearer for Bowie’s work.

And although I see the world as random, last night, as I mentioned in my previous post, I was watching a movie about Marlene Dietrich.  The documentary was called Marlene.  In it she sings a slow melancholy version of Just a Gigolo.  Bowie is in the cafe with her, dressed stylishly, sitting at a table slightly removed from the main action.  It had a dreamy resigned quality to it.  And even though I don’t believe in such things, when I heard the news today, it seemed like last night the universe was speaking to me.  It was a goodbye to someone who’s work I have loved very much over the years.  It was one of those moments that makes you question things, if only for a moment, before you realize that you should know better…

Marlene Dietrich and Bing Crosby(!) Sing in French

Thanks to some friends, I have recently discovered the musical world of Marlene Dietrich.  One of her records was put on and a room full of rowdy drunks sat in stunned silence at the magic of the recording.  But stranger yet, here she is singing in French, with Bing Crosby!  For some reason I never pictured Bing Crosby singing in French, though that could just be my own ignorance.  Maybe him singing with Bowie wasn’t so strange after all?

Matt Taibbi On Oregon Standoff

Matt Taibbi On Oregon Standoff

I have tried several times to write about what is going on in Oregon, only to find myself not being able to adequately convey the proper level of outrage and absurdity.  Thank heavens that Matt Taibbi is there when you need him.  Above is his take on the events over at Rolling Stone.  Every time I read an article on Ammon Bundy and the gang, I feel my brain melting down.  Even Donald Trump and the Koch brothers don’t fill me with such loathing.  Even if they see themselves as David vs. Goliath, and in terms of sheer firepower and physicality, compared to the federal government, they may be, as soon as they brought weapons into their political argument they took on the role of the bully.  They somehow represent sheer dumb force, even as they are strikingly pathetic. Sooner or later they will end up in jail or possibly dead, and unlike so many in this country, they will have brought that upon themselves.  Unwittingly these people are making a better argument for a strong government than any liberal possibly could.

Merry Christmas Everybody

Marah's_Xmas_Bar

Photo taken two days ago at Marah HQ.  Some amazing rock n roll is being made.  I’d like to take some credit for it, but I feel more like a sailor catching the first glimpse of a new shore, only due to the luck of waking up on the right boat, with the right crew.  Sometimes magic happens and chance happens to place you in the room.  More will be revealed when I feel I can adequately express it.

I hope all of you can enjoy the holiday in one way or another.  If you are lucky enough to spend the day with friends or family appreciate it.  As a musician who lives far from where I grew up, I know what it is like to be alone on a holiday on occasion.  I’ve been lucky enough that my friends in my adopted city of Austin have reached out to include me when I couldn’t get back home, as I have this year.  If you know anyone out there on their own, drop them a line.

“We’re here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is.”

Merry Xmas everybody…

Jeff