Sleeping Like a Baby in ATX Tonight

Comedy is what happens to others
Tragedy is what happens to you
If I ever get through the gates of heaven
I’m gonna punch the first thing in view
Since the Ides of March, I’ve traveled far
Through Appalachia and Dixieland
Searching for the one who
Sees me as I am

I’m sleeping like a baby
Still chasing that dream
Never sure if what I’m wishing for
Is dignified or obscene

I went from Paris in the springtime
To Hitler in the first chill of the fall
Taking up arms against
All of nature’s laws
Maureen, oh Maureen, she was my first true love
And I often think of who will be my last
She’ll need an iron will and selective memory
If I’ve learned anything from my past

I’m sleeping like a baby
Still chasing that dream
Never sure if what I’m wishing for
is dignified or obscene

There’s snow on the pines and ice on the road
And it’s getting hard to steer 
And I’ve found myself laughing at
The things that I used to fear
The things that I used to fear…

I’m sleeping like a baby
Still chasing that dream
Never sure if what I’m wishing for
Is dignified or obscene

Sleeping Like a Baby by No Show Ponies.  This is the first song I wrote after moving to Austin, Texas.  It was on our first album we made here, The End of Feel Good Music.  The album as a whole is a mixed bag that didn’t turn out quite like we imagined.  It ended up being too alt-country in our minds, which was our fault, but we accidentally stumbled down that road.  However, this song, strangely also the most country of all the songs, was one that turned out exactly like it should have.

I’ll be performing it tonight down at Hole in the Wall in ATX.  Show begins at 10pm.

One Hand is Kind, One Hand is Cruel

Baby, let me remind you
You’re ahead one
And behind two

I’m the kind to lay it on the line
But this world is as vicious as love is blind

One hand is kind, the other is cruel
You can have the Kingdom, but may never rule
One hand is cruel, the other is cruel
You can enter the Court, but only as a fool

Baby, let me explain
Most are only as generous
As they are vain

I’m the kind whose always on time
You’re the toast of the town, but there’s another in line

One hand is kind, the other is cruel
You can have the Kingdom, but may never rule
One hand is kind, the other is cruel
You can enter the Court, but only as the fool

Oh I’ll caress your neck
But if you ever talk back, if you ever talk back…
I’m the kind that lays it on the line
Time after time, after time, after time…

Another set of song lyrics from the distant past.  I found some old demos and I clearly don’t have any other blog ideas yet.  Hey, at least I’m honest!  The idea at the time was that the God of the Old Testament was talking to mankind in the form of a relationship song.  However, I think that unless I explained that it just comes across as a piece of sexist clap-trap.  Hey, again, at least I’m honest…

Strange Brew Today

I’ll be playing down at Strange Brew in Austin, Texas today with my kid brother for the first time in months.  I had a band with my brother for many years that has been on hiatus while my brother attends law school.  After a searing 3 hour rehearsal yesterday we decided to turn my solo show into a rock show.  We’re also going to be joined by the great Austin songwriter Kacy Crowley.  Detrimental to my wallet, I’ve always had a strange relationship with the whole self promotional thing.  However, I can say without any doubt we are going to bring it today.  Playing with my brother, and longtime drummer Alex Moralez, yesterday made me feel like I was on a rocket taking off for Mars.  Together, let’s celebrate Jesus’s birthday early today by drinking and smoking! (Hey it’s not like it was meant to be celebrated by shopping.)  4pm start time.

No Show Ponies Live Performance

I usually don’t like the way YouTube videos of shows turn out.  The lighting is usually bad, the sound worse, the way it’s filmed makes you want to crawl into a cave and die.  However, this one turned out pretty good.  This is my former band, No Show Ponies, playing at Strange Brew in Austin, Texas.  We played the small listening room in Austin earlier this year.  It is one of the best sounding rooms in Austin.  My brother Ben is on guitar and vocals.  Alex Moralez, who is also playing with me in my current solo project, is on drums.  The set is a mix of original songs and covers, but it is only part of the set.  On that day we covered Joe Strummer, Lou Reed, John Hiatt, and Jackson Browne.  The rest of the songs are ours.  Some of them our from our album A Manual for Defeat, and some are newer.  If you are bored at work today, plug in your headphones, pretend to look busy, and have a listen…

Yesterday’s News

Friday’s star is Monday’s clown
And summer’s bride is divorced and down
Tomorrow’s rulers haven’t yet been born
She’s got a big mouth, but she’s been warned

Here’s a fact in a world of half-truths:

Keep your head up
There’s nothing you can do
At some point we’ll all be yesterday’s news

Meet the day with a fiery sword
Or with a pen and the written word
It makes no difference to me you see
Whatever helps you sleep

Here’s a fact in a world of half-truths:

Keep your head up
There’s nothing you can do
At some point we’ll all be yesterday’s news

Our hearts are filled with love baby
But our heads are filled with doom
It does no good to deny it baby
Just remember that I’m here with you tonight
Only for tonight

Keep your head up
There’s nothing you can do

At some point we’ll all be yesterday’s news

One time when I lived in Pennsylvania my band No Show Ponies got a big spread in the local paper.  My parents, in a moment of pride, hung it on the fridge.  The next day I remember seeing it there and laughing to myself that I was now yesterday’s news.  I wrote the above song later that day.  Last night I found myself on stage with Rock N Roll Hall of Famers Eric Burdon and Ian McLagen.  Shortly afterwards I was walking out the front door of The ACL Live venue and into my less than fancy Kia Forte.  A few minutes after that I was home alone with my dog as my only companion.  It reminded me of those words that I wrote years ago.  I revel in such contradictions.  We’re all just human beings trying to do the best we can.  Don’t get too big for your britches son, the gods are watching, always ready to laugh at your expense.

No Show Ponies to Go On Hiatus

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It is with equal parts sadness and joy that I announce that my band, No Show Ponies, of which I have been a member of for probably close to 15 years, is going on hiatus while my brother, and partner in the band, attends law school in Pennsylvania.  I am sad that my best friend and band mate is moving away, but I am happy that he is pursuing something that he has a passion for.  I will be starting a new musical project, but I will talk about that at a later date.  For the time being I would like to talk about how much working with my brother has meant to me.

My brother, Ben Brown, is one of the most talented musicians that I have ever come across.  I’m talking about a guy that could learn a Beach Boys song with 15 chords in it in five minutes by ear.  I’m talking about someone that I have almost never heard sing off key in the 15 years I have worked with him. (And I personally know something about singing off key!)  This is someone that has cultivated an original voice AND an original guitar style.  These are not easy things to do.  He wrote great songs and always made my songs better by adding little twists and turns that were extremely musical.  If I got stuck on a bridge or a chorus, I would ask him what to do, and he would always come up with something inventive and catchy.

When we decided to become a three piece Ben moved to electric guitar.  He had very little experience on this instrument as he had primarily played acoustic guitar.  If necessity is the mother of invention, he soon developed a style that I have not heard anywhere else in Austin.  He could jump from the fast picking jangle guitar of someone like Johnny Marr to post punk art noise solos in the drop of a hat.  Listen to the way he works the fretboard on our song I Love You All the Same.  There is only one guitar going on there, but it seems like two.  On my song You’re Never As Good As You Think You Are, he manages to put both extremes of his playing in one song.  While most guitar players rely on stock blues and pentatonic licks, he just ignored those and went his own way.

You can hear examples of my brothers guitar playing, songwriting, and singing at www.noshowponies.bandcamp.com.  He plays all of the guitars on that record and is the one with the baritone voice.

Throughout the years we got to do some pretty neat things together.  We opened for some of our favorite bands in The Gourds and Marah.  We opened for Hillary Clinton at one of her political rallies, and one of our songs was chosen by her for a campaign commercial.  Jon Dee Graham and members of the Gourds played on one of our records.  We got a day dedicated to us by the Austin City Council and Mayor.  Numerous nights of fun are too many to mention.

For those of you that don’t know what it is like to sing and play with your brother, it is simply magical.  We could work without language.  We had the same rhythmic timing and could harmonize with very little effort.  Something happens when you play music with family that goes outside the normal realm of reason and explanation.

More than being just a great musician who I have had the honor to work with, Ben is my best friend.  It’s not anyone that you could be in a band with for 15 years.  Through low times and high times he had my back and I had his.

I have lived with Ben for all but three years of my life and in the same city for all but two.  Words can’t express how much I will miss him as my musical partner and as my roommate.  I will carry on, but just because that is what one must do in life.  We have had many ridiculous adventures along the way.  I wish him the absolute best as he moves on to this next chapter in his life.  I know at some point we will play together again.  This is but a momentary lapse in the proceedings.  I am not losing a friend or a brother, but just a band mate for the time being.  I know this, yet I still feel that these are titanic days for myself.  In closing I want to leave with a few selected lyrics from Morrissey’s song Forgive Someone.  Most of you might not understand why I am leaving it with this song, but it will bring a smile to Ben, and that is all that matters to me:

Use a weapon of words
Or a fight with your fists
But can you forgive someone?
Stand your ground and persist
And be the last one to blink
But can you forgive someone?

And if you do I’ll run to you
Betray you with a word
I would slit my own throat first of all
I will

Our truth will die with me
Our truth will die with me
Our truth will die with me