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Finishing The Album...


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Back in the studio Sunday afternoon just past to finish up the album. Recorded vocals for “The Dog’s Song,” “Tillamook Railroad Blues” and the Southern Pigfish anthem, “For Their Own Ends”—everywhere else, we’re actually using the “scratch” vocal, which came out just fine. Touched up the vocals in a couple of places on “Free-Range Person” and “Crosses by the Roadside,” recorded the Raps (about half the songs will have Raps), and recorded a simple lead guitar part on the Strat for “No Good Songs About the War.”

“The Dog’s Song” is probably the hardest of my songs to sing—it pushes both the low end and the high end of my voice range, and the words are really rapid-fire, so breathing requires strategic planning—but we managed it in one take, because I’d practiced it a lot. (Lesson: Practice a lot.) After that, singing “For Their Own Ends,” usually a strain on the voice, actually felt easy.

The album has a mix of styles—a few two-steps (one fast, one slow, and one in between), a couple of blues tunes (one fast, one slow), a march (the protest song), two rock ‘n’ roll, one Gospel, one bluegrass, and one that’s describable only as “slow and sleazy.” A couple of deliberately serious songs, maybe a couple more that just sound that way, and a few whose connection to “serious” is plumb nonexistent. About what you’d hear in concert, in other words—which was also deliberate.

I have listened to everything now, and it’s all good. Better, I think, than most stuff you’re likely to find on records these days (though I’m not an expert—I don’t buy records much), and it does beg the question, “Why aren’t these guys famous?” The answer, as one Nashville publisher put it to me, is: “Connections. The people who are famous are famous because they have connections. You don’t.”

Sad commentary on the state of the music business, to be sure—but there’s absolutely nothing I can do from this vantage point to fix it. I can—and will—simply ignore the Establishment as irrelevant, and pursue promotion as best I can. The trick is we have to create our own market because nobody’s going to do it for us.

So what do I do with this little gem once it’s finished and reproduced? Well, we schedule the CD Release Party, I guess, and send advance copies to the media and DJs (both the ones I know personally and the ones I don’t) inviting them to the Event. I contact local businesses about carrying a small stack of the CDs, offering them a poster and a commission on sales. I set up the CDBaby account and the Website to link to it. I’m not sure what else.

It’d be nice if the phone started ringing off the hook with concert offers, but I don’t see any way that’s going to happen. I still have to arrange bookings myself; all the CD does is maybe enhance publicity, and maybe bring more people in. There are a few concerts I could arrange in this area (and it’s got to be in this area, because the band doesn’t travel well): one at the Arts Center (besides the CD Release Event), one at the Garibaldi Museum; there’s the Rocktoberfest, too (if they ever have another one). I may have made enough noise to get the band scheduled to play Garibaldi Days, but not enough to get paid (one of the organizers maintains he can get a bunch of bands from Portland to come out on their own nickel and play for free, and he probably can—but are they any good?). And there’s the Neskowin Harvest Festival down south, which is a benefit for the little school there. They used to pay, but they didn’t the last time I performed there.

Rehearsals for the TAPA play take up most free time through the end of the month, but I’ll get to play music Saturday afternoon in Tillamook and Sunday evening in Nehalem the next two weeks. (And playing in Nehalem needs to incorporate practice for our impromptu band’s gig at the Manzanita Farmer’s Market Aug. 12.) News stories to cover for the paper, too.

Joe

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