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Arts Center Open Mike (And Blog-A-Day Three)...


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Lyrics for 15 songs now done for the New Joe Songbook. Found two songs (thus far) where I had never posted lyrics, and I’ll have to write those from scratch. Found another that apparently was never recorded—“The Dead Porcupine Ragâ€â€”and I’ll have to fix that, too. Slowly, agonizingly slowly, the work gets done.

Small crowd—both performers and audience—at the Arts Center’s open mike Saturday night. From me, they got “When They Die, I Put Them in the Cookies†(there were kids in the audience), “One Gas Station,†and “Selling Off My Body Parts.†They liked the “Cookies†one best. (And despite it being a small crowd—and despite my singing the song—they still managed to eat most of eight dozen cookies.)

Some folks asked when the SOSA/Maslow Project CD (which has the “Cookies†song on it) was coming out—I think they’d like to buy copies. I got word when I got home that the CD has been released, and I’m being sent a copy. Price will be $10 plus shipping; don’t know where to order it yet. (The Maslow Project, by the way, is a charity for homeless kids. Everybody on the album and involved in its production is donating their services. All the money from sales will go to the kids.)

April’s “Artist of the Month†at the Arts Center will be the kids from Tillamook High School, and we will need some kind of musical performance Saturday, April 7, following the artist reception. I think we need to do something different to increase attendance. Perhaps a by-invitation show, a la The Mercantile? I know a number of musicians; question is whether I could get them to come. Could we do a theme? The Mercantile was able to exploit Valentine’s Day, with an “Oops, I Forgot Your Valentine†show (Feb. 18). What could one do at the beginning of April? It’s probably too early to talk about spring—last year, spring didn’t come until the end of July. There is April Fool’s Day, of course (April 1)—but there’s also Easter (which is actually the next day, April 8).

I am of course partial to St. Leif’s Day (March 29), partially because it’s so obscure—few people ever heard of the guy—but also because it’s a feast day for musicians. St. Leif is the patron saint of bagpipes (if any instrument ever needed a patron saint, it’s bagpipes) and it’s said one should celebrate St. Leif’s Day by playing music. Not necessarily on the bagpipes, of course—but it would be fun to get one or more bagpipers to come. It is kinda Their Day, after all. We would need blueberry popcorn (the traditional St. Leif’s Day snack).

I think the “One Gas Station†song is too long. It feels like it’s dragging even without a lead break (I played it without a lead break at the Arts Center). Can’t speed it up easily, because parts of it have a lot of words, and they come pretty fast—it’s one of those that requires strategic breathing. The only option is to excise a verse—and I’m not sure which one. Or not perform the song, of course. The goal is to have the song end just before the audience is ready for it to end. If I can’t do that, I shouldn’t be performing the song.

I’ve had to shorten songs a couple of times before (they’re not always “done†when I say they’re “doneâ€). I had a Nashville music publisher tell me “Crosses by the Roadside†was too long, and at the time the criticism really bothered me—but I eventually decided the guy was right, took out a verse(and chorus), and the song was much better for it. We recorded the shorter version on the Deathgrass album. In the same vein, “Meet Me at the Stairs†got better once I took out one of the verses (it originally had five, and they’re long verses)—and it’s been so long, I no longer remember what was in the verse I eliminated.

Joe

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