Saturday, February 28, 2009

Unknown Artist, Unknown Album

Firing up Station TSCOT. I told you he was the Moon Man. Always interesting to me is the concept of reversal. The moon is generally thought to be the sign for the feminine, and the Sun--male. In our case, Scot is the Moon and I am the Sun. Opposite, but still in balance.

Tonight’s track is a real treasure (although the track came up as “Unknown Artist, Unknown Album). I’m beginning to realize that with the commitment I’ve made, I have to save some good stuff for the end, but tonight, I give you a gem. This track (in my opinion, a the quintescential Scot Halpin original)--“Rocket to the Moon” --is another demo recording made in the mid-eighties, in which Scot is playing on all the tracks. The Rockabilly thing was a good fit for him.

Just got back from Urbana, Illinois, where I heard the world premiere of “Halpinism.” I’ve been wanting to talk about this all week, but I’ve saved it for today. Our friend, Simon Rowe (let’s hear it for him) gave the first of two PhD jazz recitals today in Room 25 of Smith Hall, on the University of Illinois-Champagne/Urbana campus. As he pointed out in his performance today, Jazz and recital kind of don’t really fit, but he did a brilliant job of making those worlds meet. Simon and Scot, to me, were unexpected, but fast friends.

They were both extreme musicians, but from two different worlds. I told you before, the only reason Scot would teach himself the names of the chords every two or three years, was so that he could communicate with the musicians he wanted to play with. On the other hand, Simon has lived the life of a virtuoso jazz musician, since he was 16, and if you want to talk to him about 19th century French musical structure, he can talk to you about that, in French. Needless to say, hearing the world premier of “Halpinism,” was quite a thrill.

About the visuals, please notice the rainbow. Also please notice, this time the Sun is in the boat? This is a scan of a hand-colored dry-point engraving, done in say, 1999.

Once again, the movie is on hold for me in the other room. We are watching “Six Degrees of Separation” –a weird play/movie. It’s all about this guy who ingratiates himself into people’s lives by impersonating the son of Sidney Poitier. The thing that struck me as we were watching this is that as they were talking about Sidney Poitier, and what I great and totally amazing actor/human-being he was. This alleged son of Sidney Poitier had figured out a way to hitch a ride on a rocket. They just kept defining Sidney Poitier as this amazing human being and about how he had crashed all these borders--strictly by being such a super focused and super genuine artist. I think they were probably querying the lack of an antagonist or a flaw. All I could think about was Scot, wondering, can you have an interesting story about a guy who left this world as angel?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Sweet Nectar

Tonight I went looking for an example of Carlyn Lindsey & Snakedoctor, rocking out. Oh yes, they have that gear, but I got stuck once again in the sweet nectar of Carlyn’s slow, soulful, voice.

In Snakedoctor circles, today’s song “Stop Doggin’ Me Around” by Jackie Wilson was part of the dog trilogy--along with “Dog Don’t Bark at Me” (go to: Gold Mine blog entry) and a really tricked-out version of “Hound Dog.” Dogs offer such a good jumping off point.

This is yet another recording at the Encore Café. Snakedoctor had a regular monthly gig there for quite some time. It was good gig. We’d all go in before and have dinner, which was just part of the deal! Listening back now, I can’t say enough good about Larry Vessily, Dave Witherd and Tim Hass’ playing. You all are getting the idea that I thought Scot was good. There was obviously some real chemistry there.

Today’s artwork is from the same Claris Work series I showed yesterday. This one is also drawn with a mouse. It’s dedicated to purple people everywhere.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Float

Talking about arrangements; here’s another one. Scot and I met Irene at a Williams Family Thanksgiving out in Brown County. She’s another one who just sort of took to singing-out, later rather than sooner. I know she felt a little green here, playing with Jerry, Scot and Kenny, who were all so thoroughly seasoned . Jerry really wanted to find a female vocalist for the BC (Basement Collaboration) to work with, and the boys saw great potential in Irene. They even charted out a little group identity, calling themselves, Blue Jazz. Scot did a fun mock-up of a poster for the group, but sadly, they only got three rehearsals.

Once again, Scot is sharing one of his arrangements, in this case for “Jambalaya”, a favorite Hank Williams song of his. Irene doesn’t take long to feel like doing a little skatting. As the tempo jells, so does the playful interplay between Scot and Irene—which when they really get going—is charming. Scot liked Irene’s timing. She could sort of start early or late, but arrive just on time.”

Today’s artwork speaks to the idea of interchange. I always wondered about the significance of a mermaid in a boat? This mermaid doesn’t look caught to me. She seems to want to be there? The piece is an example of some of Scot’s earliest, strictly digital artwork. His mom gave him her old Apple computer when she upgraded (say in 1995?). Scot took it, more to help her get rid of it than wanting it, but from the moment he set it up, he was hooked.

He came to love Claris Works, which is what he used to create this piece. He always claimed that some of the older, simpler programs did things that were often lost in the newer, better, bigger versions. He used no drawing pad and stylus here. He drew this one with the mouse! When it came time to print it out, he had to use such low-res files that huge pixilation was obvious. He loved that. He saw that is had he same effect as Impressionism, and felt that the pixilation showed us the way the computer thought about the work.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Pilgrim or Dreamer?

Well, for the last couple of days, I have had to come home late and sit the seat of my pants to the seat of the chair--my daily blog entry having yet to made. Same tonight. That’s all right. We’ll get there.

We're circling back around to the old Plank Road. For those joining in, that means Scot is playing bass, singing harmony, and stomping out the percussion. John William is playing acoustic guitar and singing lead vocals. For today, I've choosen a lovely version of John Prine’s immortal, “Angel from Montgomery.” Scot was a big fan of John Prine’s. He identified with him early. John Prine has had an amazing “career-at-the-edges”--an identification that intrigued Scot.

I think Scot always felt he had career-at-the-edges too--grateful for the successes he had, but always kind of thinking that maybe something bigger might happen. I personally think it was Scot’s karma, this time around, to be a great man, in a simple man’s life.

The artwork for today is a hand-colored dry-point engraving. This was a very popular image. We could print these things up on our little $100 Dick Blick press. “Just like printing $50 bills,” we’d say, as that was how much we could sell them for at art fairs (once they were painted and matted). Scot would fire-up his airbrush and we'd go to town.

Originally we called this piece, “Pilgrim.” It did not sell well with that name. We knew it was a great image, so we tried another name. We changed the name to “Dreamer” and it immediately became a top seller. Dreamer – Pilgrim--interesting?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Those Old Memories

Happy Fat Tuesday, Everyone! I was looking for a wonderful song Scot did called, “I Love to Boogie,” all about New Orleans and Mardi Gras—but alas, I couldn’t find it. Sometime themes can be a bit obvious, but today, I decided to go with a drinking theme.

Scot wrote a number of songs about drinking—especially in the old days. My, my, my. Today’s track was recorded in the early Eighties. When he started looking into Rockabilly music, it was a natural jump into country. He experimented with a bunch of country riffs and themes. Sort of like Tim and Carlyn did with the song “You Ain’t Got Time to Drink and Drive” (Kid Inside a Candy Store), Scot pulled a bunch of stories straight out of the collective Country and Western unconscious.

On this track, “I Can’t Stop Drinkin,’” Scot is playing all the instruments. This was another band demo for Funhouse.
Scot put Funhouse together, shortly after we returned from Europe, via Rhode Island and Iowa, in say 1982? The Funhouse line-up was Judy Tampa on rythem guitar and harmonious harmony, Edward Bachmann on bass and Leland Monagle on drums. We are going to hear some killer live tracks from Funhouse soon.

The artwork for today is a tribute to the many, many cups of tea I drink each day. The drawing was done with pen and ink. The color is mostly acrylic wash, with a little digital tweecking. FYI: You can click on the image once the music is over and you'll get full version of the file, which is especially helpful with images like this one, where the line work is more delicate.

Monday, February 23, 2009


This is an arrangement of "Unchain My Heart" which Scot was working out here in this recording. The song was written by Bobby Sharp and made a hit by Ray Charles in 1962. Scot went on to show this arrangement to at least two female vocalists here in town, and as far as I know, they both still use it as part of their basic repertoires.

Scot was always working on something. Here, it was singing and playing the bass at the same time. You may have thought that for such a super-talented musician as Scot, that it all came relatively easy. Oh no. He worked at things.

Turns out, singing and playing the bass is kind of contrary—it definitely calls for a conscious separation of function. Scot was proud when he could start to bring his vocal talent to an outfit he was also playing bass for.

This track was recorded at Jerry Farnsworths’s. Most weeks, Jerry brought someone in, but occasionally, they had to play with their own badselves. So for the record, on this track, it’s Jerry on (kick-ass) guitar, Kenny (truly swinging) on drums and Scot (doing his funky-thing) on bass. As with all the Basement Collaboration tapes, Jerry is producing.

I decided to go black and white today. Scot had a fascination with Saul Steinberg and William Steig. He made his first application to The New Yorker when he was 17. Here’s to that.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Walls Come a Tumblin'

A year ago today we were gathered here in Bloomington to celebrate Scot’s life. It was a bitter cold Indiana day. The most treacherous icy mess imaginable. Friends and family were zooming in from everywhere. It was a shock to all be together—to look across the room and see faces that shouldn’t be there—solemn and red-eyed.

This song, “Jericho” is one of the songs we played at the memorial—the song where we showed pictures of Scot’s life. For Scot, the walls did come tumbling down. We all said the same thing, “He can’t have died”, but he did. For me, this song has come to represent his long and valiant struggle.

This is a track from a session Scot and John recorded here at Farm Fresh, a studio built into an old church on the outskirts of town. Scot said the place had amazing acoustics. I love the balance of Scot and John’s voices. They are both really singing from their heart’s, you can tell. I tried to find a take that did not have the little tag, but couldn’t find one, sorry. The tag contains studio chit-chat between Scot, John, and Jake, the engineer.

Thanks to everyone for all the amazing effort made to lend comfort and aid to James and I over the last year. A wall of love still stands.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Kid Inside a Candy Store

OK, all you Cats and Kitties. I feel like Wolf Man Jack, broadcasting out to a world of known and unknown listeners. Tonight we are going to hear another story. “Maybe I Should Follow You Home, ” is a song co-written by Carlyn Lindsey, Tim Haas and Scot Halpin. It’s another example of a song with many verses--and parts, for that matter! The melody came to Tim and Carlyn, via Scot, in a very simple from. This is what they came back with.

I was always amazed about the way Tim and Carlyn and Scot worked. Scot would dish out some tasty little riff and Tim would fire up the inner lyricist. I suspect Tim has got some stories to tell too. He would suddenly have all these words. Carlyn would always put in her two cents. How much of this song is based on observation and how much on personal experience is irrelevant. It’s a story about carving some space out for yourself, and then being afraid to fill it.

Playing on this track are all the founding Snakedoctor members: Carlyn Lindsey singing slow, sweet, and easy, Tim Haas playing some tasteful drums (and leaving spaces in all the right places), Larry Vessily on the old rinky tink, Dave Witherd blowing yet another wind instrument, in this case--ready to knock’em dead harp, and Scot Halpin, conversing with Carlyn, on the bass.

Short entry tonight. The kid’s holding the movie for me in the other room. The artwork is just my lazy-man’s pick into the big basket. I thought it worked.

Friday, February 20, 2009


I’m being really lazy now that Station TSCOT is up and running. I just reach out, throw a disk in the player, and choose which song. Today’s selection, Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone,” is from a really interesting project-in-process. Scot got hooked up with another musician who lived here in our neighborhood—a guy named John Mead.

My favorite Scot story about John Mead is the time Scot asked John if he knew a certain Dylan song, and John answered, “How many verses do you want?” Scot and John Mead had gotten together a few times to work on this material before this recording, here at the house. It was great to hear them do it, just the two of them. The idea was that they would do a combo-Dylan/ Rolling Stones cover band. After listening to this track, I'm sure you can see John doing both—with all the verses.

Scot figured “Bob Willin” would open and “The Rolling Bones” would do the second set. Scot was super-jazzed about this idea and had gone to the extent of working out set lists and practice CD’s. Another instance of that old tick-tock, and the clock running out. On this recording is Jerry Farnsworth--playing lead, John Mead is playing rhythm acoustic guitar, Kenny Wright is playing drums, and Scot, driving the band, is on bass. This was "Take One." The band had never played the song together before. Jerry produced.

I am working on the technology that will allow me to bring in all kinds of material. I soon will be able to convert cassette recordings to digital files, and then, a whole new range of possibilities will open up. I did have one tragedy yesterday. I was going play a trance piece I had picked out, and the sticky note on the thing, ruined the disk. I am so sad. I hope the tracks are not forever lost.

Today’s art piece is about the healing role music played in Scot’s life, always; but if even possible, even more so, towards the end of his life. He played and practiced almost everyday. When he was playing his music, his mind would rest. Toward the end, he always had to play sitting down, but once down, he was in the power chair.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Moon Man and Me

Scot is the Moon Man. I catch him now and then peeking at me through the tree branches outside my window, on a silvery winter’s night—just like “The Night Before Christmas.” Today’s song, “Pinstripe Vest” is our first genuine Scot and John, Plank Road original. We start out with John’s groovy poetry, “There’s a scent in the air like ripening fruit, the trees putting on a pinstripe suit.” That is definitely John. “You know I love you baby, cause you put up with my stuff.”—clearly Scot.

I love the carefree way Scot sings out, riffing along with John’s kazoo, during the breaks. Scot would often improvise a horn sound, Ella-style, scatting and riffing--a cross between Louis and Glen Miller and a whole lot of other people! Scot and John were so completely comfortable with each other. It was a beautiful thing to witness--both guys, so friendly and so warm, but in a way, a little lonely. Scot was experiencing a very challenging internal reality because of the brain tumor. John and Scot developed a mutual love and appreciation society that created a comfortable home for them to settle in to a serenely productive musical collaboration.

The artwork today is an older piece of Scot’s work. He did this piece in say, 1999 – 2000. It is an example of one of his first forays into digital printmaking. The girl on the chair was a drawing, which Scot scanned. The digital gradations were some of the tools that fascinated Scot because he had long been an air-brusher. He loved being able to get the gradated effect without having to deal with a finicky airbrush.

I love this image. I love the sweetness of the girl, and the details of the chair and the whole idea of reading to someone. I did a whole lot of reading to Scot and James as we’d drive all over the mid-west doing art fairs. Scot loved my reading voice, because I’d put on all the voices—in the car. He always wanted to create a company for me to read. Of course, every time he’d try to get me to read in front of others, I couldn’t do it. I could see it was a somewhat of a disappointment to him. Not so shy now! Anyway, the image is called, “Story Teller.”

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Mystery Track

Remenicent of the "Baby Elephant Walk." Who are these people? If you are playing on this track, please let me know. All I know is Scot is playing bass. Larry? Tom? Jerry? Kenny? That's my guess.

P. S. Happy Birthday Yoko.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Slice of the Divine

Least you begin to think that Scot turned into some kind of jazz dude, as Alfred Hitchcock used to say (or was it Rod Serling?), I submit the following.

Scot started to get interested in Rockabilly music around the same time as The Stray Cats were first getting going--those sort of pomped-up post-punk days. Scot and I were traveling in Europe in 1981, and our tour followed in time to see the tatters of The Stray Cats’ tour posters. We missed a gig in London, I’m still sorry about.

We got hooked up with some really cool Rockabilly players in Amsterdam. When we walked into this club, we thought for sure the band was made up of Americans, on tour--like us. But no—these were Dutch guys. They could not speak much English, but boy you sure could not tell it when they got going, and could they rock! They loved Scot. He was like a beautiful young Elvis delivered to them.

This recording reflects the culmination of Scot’s exploration into Rockabilly music. We are going to hear quite a lot of Rockabilly here because it was Scot first serious dive into roots music. Scot was what we call an instinctual player. He had to force himself to learn the chords so that he could talk to the other players. Chords are still written on the tops of various guitars here around the house.

“The Story of Johnny B. Goode” is a Scot Halpin original (copyright on file, damn it). This is a demo track Scot created to present to the band, at the time, Funhouse. Funhouse was a morph of T. Scot Bottom and the Rockabiily Funhouse. Scot is playing all the instruments here. He began recording a lot of this exploration, so eventually you’ll hear from wence he came.

Briefly, we ended up living in Iowa for a year, and we did go back into the backwoods and we encountered some amazing players. We had a wonderful time. It was a perfect example of how music brings people together.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Gold Mine

My guess is everyone is ready to hear a little more from Carlyn Lindsey & Snakedoctor. Good news, I just found one CD that has at least nine kick-ass blog musical entries on it!

The one I’ve picked for today is a Carlyn Lindsey original. I’ve given Tim co-writing credit on the id tag, but I’m guessing this one came straight out of Carlyn--intact. Starting with the title, “Dog, Don’t Bark at Me,”--we get to know a little about Carlyn. Now, I think that they only had two dogs when she wrote this song, but she and Tim were living in downtown Chicago, and having any dogs in the middle of the city is no small deal. Not to mention how getting from here to there in any big city can get you down, especially if you have to do it at a time when a whole bunch of other people have to do it to.

To hear Carlyn tell it, she was working in one of those skyscrapers that jag the Chicago city skyline when she wrote this song. Scot and I exhibited his artwork at fairs around “Chicagoland” for ten years. I can remember driving into town late on a Friday night, heading for the North shore; and looking-out as we passed the Sears Tower, so tall and so loaming. For me personally, the thought of being on one of those upper floors is flat-out dizzying. I can’t imagine working there. I think Carlyn and Tim might be up to eight dogs now, down there on the southern Indiana hillside they now call home.

This recording is actually from the same night as the killer “Turtle Blues” tract we heard a few days ago. That means: Scot on bass, Tim Hass on drums, Larry Vessily on anything with keys and Dave Witherd on sax. Scot had never played much with a horn player and he loved playing with Dave for obvious reasons. Also playing that night was Todas (last name to be inserted here) on guitar. Todas only played with the band for a short time. What Scot respected most about Todas is that is could step back and be a real rhythm player, grooving with the band; and then take one step forward and totally break it out.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Good news—problem fixed. Thanks to them that made it happen (as we would say here in Indiana).

The way I remember it, A Plank Road rehearsal usually open with either "Stealin’" or "Casey Moan". Scot would get the um-pa-pa bass going; John would strum in a few bars later. Scot would play the bells you will hear with his right foot, and the tambourine drum--hooked up to a foot pedal, with his left.

On this track, John and Scot were joined by John’s stepson, Evan Copelly, doing some righteous harmonies and other duties, I’m not sure all of which. Usually Plank Road had a pretty striped-down sound, but for this recording, Scot, John and Evan had some fun playing with the magic of multi-tracking!

Scot became passionate about jug-band music during the last two years of his life. The way he viewed it, it was the real link between country and rock and roll. The song we are hearing today, Stealin’, was written by the Memphis Jug Band in 1928.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Perfect Day

The passing of the first anniversary of Scot’s death has left me weary. Since I’m still having trouble being able to load my podcast, I am going to make this a short entry with a nice image. I’ll get the music eventually.

The music for today is by Jamula, another laboratory project of Jerry Farnsworth’s. Jamula’s line-up consisted of Jerry--no coincidence--on guitar, Scot on bass, and the killer mouth organ is being played by Tom Smith. Tom has a tremendous feel for this instrument. I'm not sure these pieces had titles. Today's track was recorded live on 4-26-06. Jamula was a jam trio, but I believe Kenny Wright is sitting in on drums for this session. Another drummer, Paul Schneller, often sat in as well.

Jamula actually had a couple of gigs, (a memorable one being on the front porch of the Runcible Spoon here in Bloomington)--but mainly they were all about improvisational grooving. They came up with some great riffs. Scot and I used to laugh, imagining this music as the soundtrack of a spaghetti western.

The artwork for today is a piece called, “Perfect Day.” It was inspired by Scot’s childhood summers spent at the perfect, Lake Okoboji, in northwestern Iowa, at his grandparent’s cottage. Lake Okoboji is big medicine. It’s a blue water lake, so it’s beautifully clear and sort of glows from within. The piece started out as a painting, which was later photographed, and then re-worked in the newly created digital file.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Got Me So Blind

I have still not yet resolved my technical difficulties. I am struggling to make my system fit into “the” system--and you know it ain’t easy. Add to that about three changes in programs. There’s so much.

Most Wednesday nights for the last three years of Scot's life, he would toddle up the road to Bethal Lane and the home of Jerry and Judy Farnsworth. Much could be said about these two beautiful people, but for these purposes, Jerry was hosting a weekly musical laboratory. At this laboratory’s core were Jerry, Scot and a guy called Kenny Wright.

Both Jerry and Kenny had played for ages around town, in all sorts of outfits. This trio came together at a time when they all had some time. Scot and Kenny bonded big-time as a rhythm section. I’ll say it here; Scot took Kenny under his wing. Kenny had been used to playing a great big, heavy-duty rock and roll rig. Scot got Kenny to strip down to a snare and a high hat, and promptly taught him how to swing.

I wanted to find a classic Jerry song, like Low Rider or 16 Tons (we’ll get to these things), but because it’s Friday 13th, I couldn’t resist this live recording of Scot, singing Carlos Santana’s silky, “Black Magic Woman.” It’s not exactly Scot’s key, but anyway, you’ll get the idea of his sweet Irish tenor voice. He is also playing some of his lyrical signature bass.

Each week, Jerry would invite other musicians to come to the studio, and Jerry/Kenny/Scot would back them up. Jerry recorded all these sessions, and really got to know his room. There are hundreds of recordings (Jerry knows how many). Joining the guys the night of this recording, April 5, 2006, was Mike Stiglitz on space guitar. Scot always enjoyed playing with Mike, who has a very cool rock demeanor, and almost as many boxes as his friend Paul Thomas.

Sadly, Kenny Wright followed Scot into the great-unknown four months later, leaving us bereft by this swift and untimely surprise. Kenny was as charming and loving and positive as a guy you could be. When he died, he was playing with six bands here in Bloomington; his playing was so much in demand.

I haven’t been talking that much about the artwork. Like the music, I am relying on things that are already digital. I’m still working out the digitization process. All the artwork I’ve been showing comes from a body of work Scot created in the last four years of his life. The basis for all the pieces so far, was a ballpoint pen drawing on a sheet of typing paper. He would then scan the drawings and then begin layering the piece with digital information. He did these drawings by the ream.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Head in my Shell

Oh, yeah. Life is hard. And tiring. But these are important and true lessons that have been gifted me as a result of Scot’s passing. Soon, it won’t matter what we’ve got left to do. Sorry about the glitch yesterday. I tried. Hopefully my little system for this memorial blog will become more streamlined.

The music you are about to hear is courtesy of Carlyn Lindsey & Snakedoctor. OK, I know, the name. Scot was always after Carlyn and Tim Haas, her husband/drummer/band manager, to change it. They never would. Carlyn is from Kentucky. Down there, they call Dragonflies--Snakedoctors, and that’s what the name is about, not the waggiling, heavy metal, acid kings the name might call to mind.

Scot met up with Carlyn and Tim in 2003. Carlyn had apparently been singing like a canary around the house. One day, they got the idea they should form a band, and lucky for the world they did. From her first performances Carlyn's gift was drop-dead obvious. She has the kind of voice that Janis did--one that drenches vulnerability with everything else she does.

Today’s track is a recording of Janis Joplin’s classic, “Turtle Blues.” This is a live recording made January 16, 2004, at the now defunct Encore Café, here in Bloomington. Shortly after this time, the song got re-arranged into more of a voodoo stomp; which was nice, but I would always yell out, “Play the slow version of “Turtle Blues.” My requests were always ignored. So today, I get my revenge.

Scot was Snakedoctor's bass man. Carlyn called him, "The Miracle Man." The cool organ is provided by Larry Vessily and the wailing flute is by Dave Witherd.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Reality Check

Technology meltdown. Can't seem to make what worked yesterday to work today? I owe it to ya.rhy

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Blue House Indeed

We started yesterday with an old song; today we hear a new one. Towards the end of his life, Scot came to feel fortunate indeed to live here in Bloomington, Indiana, where we are thick with musicians. Scot regularly played with a whole host of A-list musicians.

Twice a week, he met with our neighbor, John Williams--sometime here in our basement, sometimes out in John’s barn. Their musical collaboration became known as Plank Road, a quasi-jug band duo. The association between John and Scot was a rich one. John was with me here when Scot passed.

Today’s recording, “Blue House”, was made in Jerry Farnsworth’s Bethel Lane studio. You’ll be hearing a lot more from Jerry Farnsworth later. I picked this track because the mix so beautifully captures Scot’s bass, which was very much a lead instrument in this ensemble.

Scot and John went on to write many songs together, but “Blue House” is John’s. John has one of those voices that are just startlingly authentic and his lyrics are pure poetry.

Today's artwork is another recent piece of art. Scot had an alphabet of symbols. Already we see a couple.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Transparent Dimension

The Transparent Dimension was a band full of promise. I know the story mostly through Scot, but I’ve heard him marvel at Paul Thomas--a guy with a basement, who knew how to build strange boxes. The recording you are about to hear is a testament to Paul Thomas’ genius. The sad fact is, Scot was that last surviving member of the Transparent Dimension.

Scot most recently heard this recording when he purchased a copy of the “Eastern Iowa History of Rock, Vol. I. “ He was more than surprised when he heard track 2, “I Need Somebody. “ He instantly recognized a recording he’d made in Paul Thomas’s basement. I’m guessing he was probably around 14 when the recording was done. I remember he told me he didn’t have a real drum set. He had a cymbal, but mostly he was playing a box! My best guess is, that the song was essentially written by Bruce Peters. I never got to meet Bruce, but it’s obvious talking to anyone who ever encountered him, in his short life, he was a bright and brilliant star. He was the first to go.

The Transparent Dimension might have been a happenin’ thing, except…that fate intervened. Bruce, and Scot’s beloved friend, Paul Thomas, got asked to join this really hip, regional phenonanon, The Daybreakers. The Daybreakers had a successful 45, “Psychedelic Siren,” and they were fronted by Max Al Collins--a guy who still commands the creative high grounds of the river town of Muscatine, Iowa.

This defection devastated Scot. He was disappointed he was not asked to join The Daybreakers, even though he was obviously a very promising drummer. On top of that, he’d lost his mates. But such is the way of life. Fortunately, for him throughout his life, Scot would bounce back and forth between music and the visual arts. Right around the time that the Transparent Dimension was no more, Scot got hooked up with a transforming high school art teacher, who took him under his wing, and who for the moment, soothed his wounds. rhy

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

P.S. Happy Birthday, Scot!

Thanks to Pete and The Who Family

Thanks to Pete Townshend and The Who Family for their fabulous coverage of Scot's Memorial Blog on The Who's official website! rhy




Scot Halpin passed away last year at the young age of 54. He is known by many as the kid who got to come up out of the audience, sit in for an ailing Keith Moon and finish the set with The Who, thereby living the dream of Who fans, Keith Moon lovers, and anyone baptized in the churning, burning waters of rock and roll. Rock fans around the world can mourn the loss of their advocate--the guy who sojourned from their lands into the realm of the gods and returned anointed. Throughout his life, Halpin marveled at the mythological nature of the mantle he inadvertently snatched that night.

Over the years, the story of Scot playing with The Who gained momentum, from the beginning, taking on a life of its own. Television, newspapers, radio and books all picked it up. "I never met a person that was not wowed by the story," laughs Robin Halpin Young, Halpin's wife and partner of 30 years. "Across class lines, creative lines, geographic lines, age lines—everyone was equally impressed."

The whole time The Who story was chugging along, Halpin was busy being a phenomenal visual artist and musician in a world of his own creation. As a columnist in his local paper put it, the "gig with The Who was a footnote in a life well-lived." Now that he has passed, Halpin's family and friends are actively engaged in excavating the enormous body of artwork and music he left behind.

"We are only really beginning to take stock of the depth and breath of his work now that he has passed," explains Halpin Young. "While Scot was alive, his entire focus was on living his creative time to the absolute fullest. This meant there was always precious little time for review and reflection. The idea for the memorial blog came to me almost immediately after he passed. Scot has left us with literally thousands of drawings, paintings, etchings, and sculpture. Add to that, thousands of hours of recorded music. I hope the blog will be a little bit history, a little bit insight into a remarkable life, and ultimately, the beginning of a worldwide sharing of a great creative effort."

The blog can be accessed starting February 9th, 2009 at

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