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More For The Train Set...


16 suggestions for the Deathgrass Train Set (actually, 13 received, and three more on the way—one being written for the occasion). Some statistics: The songs came from as close as Nehalem (15 miles away) and as far away as Rumania. Eight were from writers I know at Just Plain Folks, four from Facebook or people connected to Facebook (three from the Actors & Musicians group), three from the Seniors Group at Soundclick, and one from the Coventry songwriters over in England. I have only ever met one of the 15 writers personally.

Thanks to Christopher Smith, Katherine Fear, Charles Holman, Jerry Miller, Damien Blakely, Skip Johnson, Peggy Mack, Stan Good, Dave Rice, Ray Strode, Kevin Emmrich, Jim Jett, Ben Willis, Ray Wyatt, and John Lawrence Schick. I do not know at this point which stuff I am going to be able to use, because I have not tried to play and sing all of it. (I haven’t received all of it yet, either.)

My ability to play and sing it is going to be the main determinant, because I am, for better or worse, the lead singer for Deathgrass, and I do not have much of a voice range. That means I may have to pass on something I’d really like to do simply because it’s outside my voice range in both directions. In the same vein, I have to record these for the band’s setlist CDs, with me playing it and singing it in the key I’m going to have to sing it in. If the music’s too complicated, I can’t do that, either.

I would like to get 6 to 8 songs we can use, to add to the two we can already do, “Tillamook Railroad Blues” and Shields & Leighton’s 1910 hit “Steamboat Bill,” plus two traditionals I know I can sing, “Wreck of the Old 97” (with the verse Johnny Cash added and the one I changed) and “The Lightning Express” (which was a Dodson Drifters standard). In reserve, in case I need ‘em, are two more traditionals, “The Wabash Cannonball” and “Life’s Railway to Heaven” (the Dodson Drifters version, with the extra verse I added). All the traditionals are fast bluegrass songs, so the other stuff can be slower if need be. And different genres, too—the band is quite versatile.

I might end up with another train song of my own, too. I just have snippets at present (and music, of course), but I’m taking another long trip in The Truck With No Radio, to southern Oregon (I’m performing with Dan Doshier Saturday, Aug. 6 at the Southern Oregon Songwriters Summer Concert in Talent) and long trips are usually good for writing. We’ll see what happens.

I am looking forward to the trip. Nice to do a Monty Python—“Now, For Something Completely Different”—even if it’s only for a couple of days. I know it’s not Progress—it’s only Motion—but I hate the feeling of being stuck in a rut. It’ll feel like a two-day vacation. I’ll have plenty to do when I get back, starting with the Manzanita Farmer’s Market gig Aug. 12. (The Jews’ Harp Festival is that weekend, too; I’ll be able to go one day—Saturday, Aug. 13.) And I’ve still got to fix the PA system so it puts out decent sound.

On the job front, I have pretty much given up on the local jobs; I didn’t get hired for the one I really wanted (city manager in little Wheeler, 13 miles from here), and I’m not expecting the other two potential employers will even interview me. So I’ve applied for another out-of-town interim city-manager gig; I’ll probably know in a week and a half if they’re interested in me. I’ve done the out-of-town thing three times now, so that, too, has become a set piece; it’s no longer unfamiliar. It’s not that different from an out-of-town musical performance, except that it’ll last six months instead of a few hours. And one of these days, there’ll be a song in it…



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