Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Poking around—looking for that groove-thing. Delighted to find this wonderful version of the Basement Collaboration, barreling down the hi-way doing “The Doors” (or was is just Jim Morrison’s?) anthem, “Roadhouse Blues.” For both Scot and Jim, that uncertain future was too near.
This track is your basic ‘BC’ line-up, with Scot leading the convoy, on lead vocals as well as his usual bass laces. Kenny is there on drums, so is Nelson on sax. The abstract, but weirdly right guitar parts, were provided by another BC guest named Brian. I am working with Jerry on all the missing artist info. On behalf of the blog, I apologize to anyone who has not been properly credited so far. I will eventually fill in all those holes.
Today’s artwork is another piece from the folder of magazine illustrations Scot did in the 1990’s. This piece appeared in “Bass Player”. Scot dug it that during this period that we could walk into any book store in America and find one or more of his illustrations in publications ‘on the racks’. Scot’s ‘spot pieces’ were always so perfectly to the point.
These were the days, long before the advent of Photoshop. To create this illustration, Scot sketched out the graphic. He then took it to a special photocopy machine that was in the hallway of the library at San Francisco State University that made these super rich black copies on a shiny paper—definitely not archival. He would bring these copies home and fire up the air brush and do two or three versions, which he would then package up and mail to the art director. Special points to blog followers who guessed those edges were made with pinking shears.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Bum-pa-bum-pa-bum-pa. For me these are such welcoming sounds. Scot was so excited about this racket. This is once again “Plank Road,” one of Scot’s final musical collaborations—this one a rich one with our neighbor, singer-song-writer, John Williams. This is John’s song, “Crack in the Liberty Bell.”
Scot didn’t take the absolute usual musical track. As a teen he liked art jazz—didn’t care so much about the roots. He did circle around to it through the Rockabilly revival that formed in the wake of Brian Seltzer and the Stray Cats in the late 1980’s.
We got to see um—The Stray Cats, that is. They sure made made ya feel like going on a rockabilly prowl. After going on tour playing drums for a C & W band, and fronting bands—being a showman (Funhouse), being an acknowledged composer (Headlands), and jumping on the wave of the surrealistic power trio (Folklore), he finally came to the blues.
He got hooked up playing drums for a blues outfit working on Grant Avenue in North Beach in San Francisco called the El Dorados. (Somebody famous came out of this band by the name of Joe Lewis Walker.) When we moved to Bloomington Indiana in 1995, Scot began checking out blues and roots music from the library. He had a period of wood-shedding. Playing along to records and then is keyboard improvisations—no bands. We were very engaged with the art fair business at the time.
Today’s artwork is a piece I pulled out of a whole folder of artwork that Scot created as illustrations for magazines. I choose this one because I just realized that my whole entry from yesterday was gone. Poof! I believe I probably deleted it by accident. This picture perfectly illustrates how that makes me feel. It’s hard enough to do it once.
Back in the early 1990’s Scot began doing artwork for a San Francisco based magazine publishing company called Miller Freedman who put together: Guitar Player, Bass Player, Drums and Drumming, EQ (home recording). The illustration combines original graphics (the figure) and collage (the boxes), air brushing (the black spatters), permanent color maker and acrylic wash. The original piece of artwork would then be sent in, under tissue paper, to the art director.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Today’s track is called “Orchestra in a Guitar.” This is a solo demo recording of Scot. I love how Scot pulls those deep bass notes. While playing guitar, I would often hear him grab for the bass strings and let them ring out. In the cracks and crevasses, he plants little melodic wild flowers. Is that a banjo in there? This was recorded in our flat on Page Street in San Francisco, way back in 1985.
Today’s artwork is an example of a style of Scot’s I was especially fond of. He would start off by laying down abstract color fields. I love the pigment he used here. Look at the glow of the orange! Blue and orange are complementary colors, which makes more sense when you look at the sunset.
On top of that field, Scot has imposed a sun graphic, which he used a beautiful Japanese calligraphy brush and India ink to create This piece was created in the year 2000.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Today’s musical track is called “Singing Bowls,” in reference to the crystal bowls my friend Janice Jaffe uses in her music healing. Lucky me, today I got to travel down with Janice to Louisville, Kentucky to a music healing conference going on there. WOW! Another whole universe I didn’t know existed. There were some really switched-on people there. People really focused on helping and healing.
I got to tune my vibrations to a machine with a Tesla coil as its base!!! I talked to a couple of people after I got home, and they both commented on how good I sounded. My friend Janice did a lotus blossom of a healing for the group. I fell in easily to the role of roady. Our music today is one of Scot’s solo improvisational electronic jams.
Today’s artwork is a simple pen & ink drawing with bits of umber and sepia wash. I was so happy to find this piece, which I think so perfectly captures the direct improvisational nature of the music. The musical parts are flowing from Scot’s finger-tips just like the bones of blood of this drawing are his own. The drawing was done in the year 2000.
Friday, September 25, 2009
Off they go and off we go along with them. Today’s musical track is courtesy of “Jamula”—a piece called “Conscious Breathing. Tom Smith is sure doing a lot of conscious breathing on that mouth organ of his. Scot scales are so iridescent. And Jerry Farnsworth adds all the necessary punctuation with his guitar. I am under the impression that this was the last session “Jamula” recorded before Tom moved. The notation on the CD is ‘FUN LAST’.
Today’s drawing is another one I’ve been looking at for the last few days. The way it works is that I dig around the piles of drawings, looking for a good fit. Sometime I find a piece that I want to use, but I hold instead. I find myself really looking at Scot’s work anew. Each day I find new pieces that I’ve never seen before. Like today’s piece. Here we’ve got another lady making a journey towards--through a hole. It appears there’s a certain amount of suction involved. The piece is an original pen & ink drawing with monochromatic transparent acrylic wash done in 2002.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Here’s another jewel I’ve been saving, but I needed its balm now. Today we hear “Carlyn Lindsey & Snake Doctor” ‘go spiritual’. This was one of my all time favorite tunes on any CL & SD set list in history, the spiritual, “I wish I Knew How”. I was at the Encore Cafe the day this was recorded. The event was for the benefit of the legal fund of a progressive public official, who had been set-up for a fall by those whose job it is to serve and protect. That day there was a sense of how great it does feel to be free. Listen again at the beginning and you’ll hear Scot shout out one of his familiar refrains, “Everybody Everywhere!” He was sure a righteous, global dude.
In keeping, I have choosen another page from the book of “Glorious Gospel Hymns”. I chose it because it was another chance to get a wash in hope. We all have our bonds—many feel bonds now—freedom to do what we can do—freedom to say what we can say, is for many just a dream. “I wish that you knew how it feels to be me.” The people in the big houses may think of themselves as compassionate individuals, but I wonder, can they really understand how the people in the slave shacks feel—the people who are not free to do what they can do?
Today’s piece of artwork jumped out at me with the pull of a second line band. I’m ready for some confetti. The drawing was done with graphite for the line work, a transparent India ink wash and is topped off with some ice cream music sprinkles over a big pink banana split of a figure—all in opaque acrylic.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Today I just wanted to ease on up a bit. Enough of the demanding listening, already. Today’s music is a soundtrack for a bright, breezy, yet busy day. One could hope for a lot of those. The track was recorded on April 20, 2005. This was fairly early in the project. It is not noted on the disk, but I believe there is another guy named Scott ____, playing rhythm guitar and doing some singing later on in the session.
At this point in their development, the Basement Collaboration was just getting its sea legs. Scot and Jerry had played together for quite some time as “Jamula” and Kenny did start sitting in on a few “Jamula” sessions, just before Tom Smith sadly left Bloomington to go live with family in northern Indiana. We miss you Tom. My point being, that these are early days for the BC. I do notice a kind of feeling around for voices and parts that I like.
Today’s artwork is also an early example of a medium. Today’s drawing was done in 1997. Scot had just worked out this formula for materials that he liked—that formula being Bristol board with fine point permanent ‘Sharpie’ marker, and transparent acrylic paint (as opposed to strictly water color pigments). By watering down acrylic paints, he could move the paint around quickly and be able to fill in large areas quickly (which he liked), but also have color that will be more stable, meaning less likely to fade.
I like this little person, especially their hat. I like this little bird. I have to say that I am seeing more clearly about Scot’s repeated use of this funny little bird. The perspective on this piece is strange. Is this a really tall person--looking up (a little ways) at the bird in the treetop, or maybe he or she is levitating up to the bird, or maybe that tree is actually just a very short tree? I recommend enlarging this one to have a look at the line work.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Today musical track is another page from Scot’s songwriter’s notebook. What I find interesting is the way he moves the sonic elements around. This requires some kind of stereo separation to really appreciate. I am quite certain that Scot did not have lyrics for this piece when he started, making it a free-form jam of sorts, lyric-wise. This was recorded in 1988. Once again, Scot is playing all the parts.
Today’s artwork is a piece I’ve been looking at since I pulled the artwork for the “Bill Bailey” entry. I really wanted to use this drawing for that song, but held it back. This image will do now. If you look closely, you’ll see a little car parked at the side of a very curvy road. The driver of the car has gotten out and is on the way up a ladder, which enters a opening into a ??? Once again, this is a pen and ink drawing with monochromatic transparent acrylic wash. The drawing was done in 2001.
Monday, September 21, 2009
The way this blog goes is that I feel around for a balance of the unknowable. No, today’s musical track is not the sound track for “Get Shorty” (my top favorite movie of all times, what does that say about me?) nor “Pulp Fiction” (ICK--what’s the difference?) Actually, this track was laid down at least five years before that particular movie period. The way I see it--and that was about it—Scot was perennially five years (at least) ahead of the rest of the world--at all times and in all ways.
In my church (UU) we talk about coming to church to acknowledge the growing edge. Acknowledging that for that moment—this is what you choose to do—this is the growing edge of your life, excuse the metaphor but imagine a toenail. Now apply that metaphor to something not so ummmmm….. Imagine how can that thing have gotten to be so long? Look at the space between the toe nail polish and the cuticles. Sorry to be so crass, but that metaphor says it all. A growing edge is a growing edge, and after all,
This track is actually next on the tape, right after ____. We have a basic striped-down arrangement again. Scot could program this track on this cheap little drum machine, in about ten minutes. Next came the guitar. All you long-term blog followers have probably now discerned that all Scot’s leads are apples that don’t fall too far from the rhythm tree. The top track is the keyboard track. In this vehicle, Scot can take on a new voice—his angel voice. What this track reminds me of is a Leonard Bernstein version of—Kids, Let’s Meet Some instruments. I think it’s so sweet how he let’s different voices move forward.
This entry is starting to get the feel of an overlong toenail—where’s the bi-pedal individual who knows how to manipulate the clippers?
Artwork—similar to the T. Scot Memorial Blog puzzler, we can now have “the fill in the medium category blank”. Notice however the really nice red background—a first here on the TSHMB.
Speaking of that—WOW! I went to a ‘Big Band’ event this weekend. There were four trumpets, four trombones, four (different) sax players, vibes (!), bass (yeah), drums (long may you rule, CRUPA), not to mention piano and vocals for the records, from another beloved friend, Janice Jaffe, who is not just any jazz vocalist, she’s immediately palpable as the real thing. WOW! That “A Train” was the real thing!!! That Wish-- (When You Wish Upon a Star) was real too. The dance floor was open. If Scot and I had been there, you can just know that we (thank goodness for that one couple who tried) would have been out there dancing.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
I think today is a record in the annals of the T. Scot Halpin Memorial Blog. I am most likely going to have this entry done in under half and hour! No digging around in dusty boxes, listening to gummy old cassettes—like panning for gold, it’s time consuming. Today I knew I was going to return to the same Basement Collaboration session that gleamed us both “Bill Bailey” and “When the Saints Go Marching In”. Today we hear BC guest, Jim__(Jerry’s out of town, will get)__, step fully forward and take on the role of front man—singing and blowing. Lot’s of nice little parts going on in this song. The tune today is “Blues Stay Away From Me (sort of)” written by The Delmore Brothers.
Today’s artwork is an experimental cupcake. Step one on this piece was to lay down the solid bands and blobs of color in the background. Once dry, Scot went in with a beautiful little Japanese calligraphy brush, with both black and grey ink, to create the graphic. This one is a little bit of a mind bender. I like how there’s one purple eye. The roses in the hat kind of suggest a sweet little old gramma, but there’s something in her string of beads that looks like a tooth. And what’s with those faces hidden underneath all that curly hair?
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Today’s musical track is the 9-27-07 BC session, which features Scot on lead vocals and bass. “When the Saint’s Go Marching In” was definitely one of Scot’s favorite songs. He understood how on some songs, anyone can join in, at just about any point along the way. I have talked about how delighted Scot would be to get to play with a brass player. Today’s fun and fine trumpet is thanks to the licks of Bill ‘still checking’ who you can hear has some wicked chops. Scot thought that it was from this kind of music that many musical forms find their roots—the blues, country, Cajun & Zydico, and more—all pretty much crawled up out of the primordial ooze of the Mississippi River delta, to add a little schmear to life.
Today’s artwork is another wonderful map piece. This is straight India ink that Scot has used here, to paint this beautiful blending of a face, a force and a flower, done on a map of Montana.
Friday, September 18, 2009
Going back to an old traditional favorite, “Bill Bailey”. This was one of my dad’s signature songs. Yes, it’s true. My dad was a bass man too; only my dad’s bass was made out of a small tin garbage pail and a couple of 2 x 4’s. It had one string made out of a parachute cord. My dad liked to really get down and funky on this thing and I have a crystal clear image of him thumping along, squinting into the moment, hammering out the lyrics--clearly grooving. Scot was always amazed how many notes my dad could get out of that one string.
Today’s musical track is another shake of the Basement Collaboration dice. This feature our familiar Jerry-Kenny-Scot basis. Blowing the trumpet is a guy named Jim (checking with Jerry). The track was recorded on September 27, 2007, just a few months before Scotty died. When I think back on the time, I am amazed at how blind I was to what was going to happen. Things seemed good with him. The vertigo was with us every day, but he was actively training his brain to ignore it. The whole thing was so internal, so beyond gauging for the observer. It was hard to tell how things were for him. He would get tired of me always asking him if he was OK.
Today’s artwork is sort of an illustration for the song. I imagine all the elements we see here in this original pen & ink drawing, as some of the things that might be used to lour Bill home.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Listening to today’s track, I can’t help but wonder if, “..stick gum on me..” was an original lyric? Sorry about the massive distortion on this mp.3. There was a lot going on sonically—it played out pretty solidly black. Scot was a solid believer in the power-trio formula of instrumentation that The Who basically invented. “Folklore”, Scot’s late Eighties musical project was a true power-trio, Scot singings and playing the guitar along with Edward Bachmann and Johnny Law on drums doing another version of Scot’s original tune, “The Rule of the Devastated Man”.
The artwork is an original drawing done with pen & ink on Bristol board and colored with transparent acrylic.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Today’s track is another one of those little jewel sketches, “Henry the Whistling Hippo”—another of Scot’s children’s songs. On this track Scot tells us the story of Henry the Whistling Hippo. Scot so gracefully slots in the all the parts a good song needs. He had had a true gift when it came to songwriting. This piece was written in 1990.
Today’s artwork is a page from a children’s book Scot made, in partnership with his father, in 1980. We’ve already had the song that goes with this book featured in the blog, but I couldn’t resist putting up this hippo drawing Scot did for the book, “In This Big Old World”. Scot was a very innovative guy—he reached for the stuff around him. This typeface was done before we had 50 million computer fonts. The world is a stamp he had made, that he used over and over.
Since this is a memorial blog, can't help but mentioning, my mom passed in the year 2000, on this day. Love you Mom.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Well, cats and kitties, I do believe I have found a recording of the first official gathering of “T. Scot Bottom & the Rockabilly Funhouse” line-up, which came to made up of Mark Houseal on keyboards, Tom Drew on drums, and Todd (last name currently lost to the annals of history) on bass. Listening to this recording, maybe that’s for the best. Ha Ha Ha, Todd--just kidding. You turned into a fine bass man. I hope you read this someday.
In an earlier blog entry, I mentioned that when Scot and I returned the U.S. in 1981 after a six month art pilgrimage across Europe, Scot began warming up to the idea of putting a Rockabilly band together. When family considerations brew a big cup of tea, we decided to hang out in Iowa and see if we could fall in, family-wise for a while.
Scot bought this toy drum set for me (one of the most romantic gifts he ever gave me). See the earlier blog entry about drumming up the band. Well, we all got together one fine day at our little barn house on ‘G’ Street. We didn’t know each other. This was kind of an ice breaker. Beer was consumed. Instruments were woefully screwed out of tune. Strangers got into ‘it’—together. What is remarkable is that in about a week, maybe ten days later, the band took the stage at the Rosebud, the largest venue in Iowa City at the time--complete with a grand piano on stage and disco lights (this was 1980)--and rocked the Casbah. Another remarkable feature of the evening was the dime beers. Do the math!
On the tape, we mostly hear Scot. How the ensemble started out on such a horrible note, is hard to imagine. Anyway, because the kazoo knows no keys, the whole thing progresses. It turns into a tribute to many a beer drinking moment and closes with the familiar to some chant “Sha-hah-heh.” I’d like to dedicate this song to a dear friend of Scot’s named Kerry Moore, who comes mind for no particular reason at this time.
The drawing is an ‘Art by the Ream’ piece—ball-point pen on buff typing paper, done a.d. (after diagnosis) in 2005.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Here’s what Scot and the band (in this case “Folklore” - 1990) came up with, in terms of Scot’s original tune, “Ode to Dr. Kevorkian.” Sorry about the scratch beginning. Scot is playing the guitar track, as well as the organ/violin track, and providing the vocals. Edward Bachmann is playing bass and Johnny Law is playing drums and miscellaneous percussion may be Johnny or Scot, not sure. I was crazy about this whole set of material. I loved its richness of language and the purity of Scot’s vocals. Live--it was a marauding, march of music.
Today’s artwork is another original drawing done in acrylic wash, over pen & ink graphics. The black look like it came straight out of the bottle of India ink. The piece is about holes and missing parts.
Happy Birthday, Mom.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Going back to September 13, 2003. “Carlyn Lindsey & Snake Doctor” had a lunchtime gig at a pocket park in downtown Bloomington. We hustled out the front door. I remember handing Scot a breakfast burrito I’d made for him to eat on the way in the car. Everything went as usual during set-up—the fun, bantering jokes—the technical finagling. I was sitting on a stone ring around the base of a tree—hiding from the sun—as the set began. The band started into their second or third song—“Bad Love & Misery”—by Luther Allison.
I noticed that Scot’s head was tipped back. A bee was circling over him. I could see his eyes doing these visual loop-de-loops, following the bee. A few seconds later, Scot’s bass playing began to disintegrate. It was very uncommon to hear a clinker from Scot. Something was clearly wrong, but none of us knew just how wrong. Seconds later, Scot slipped into a Grande Maul seizure. I remember screaming, “He’s not OK!!!!!!” I sprang up and ran full speed into the bike shop next door to call for an ambulance.
By the time I returned, Scot was blue. The seizure finally subsided. Unfortunately, there was always a period of confusion that follows such a seizure, which made Scot want to get up and run away! Unfortunately he had no balance and was kind of under the impression that we were the bad guys who hurt him. It was hard to hold him done. Finally the ambulance arrived and off we went to the hospital.
My friend Jane tells the story that she knew Scot was going to be all right when the doctor asked him was day it was, and he pointed to Jane and said, “Ask her, she knows.” They did run a CAT scan on him that afternoon. That’s when we first heard the words—“There’s something there—we don’t know what.” It took another seven weeks that Scot wore this hideous orthopedic device, due to the two dislocated shoulders he sustained during the seizure, before that something was given a name—“low-grade glioma”—BRAIN TUMOR.
Today’s artwork is a very washy wet-on wet painting. The wash represents all the tears that have been cried since that day.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Just got a fun email from a guy who bought some artwork from us at an art fair, must have been at least 6 or 7 years ago. He went on in the email to tell me how he had given his sister a piece entitled “Perfect Day” for their wedding. The piece can actually be seen here on the T. Scot Halpin Memorial Blog (“Perfect Day”-2/14/09). It is an image involving glowing boats and water, (only no baby, just love). This brother gave the couple another piece called “Welcome”—on the day they moved into their first house. He gave them “Fun Family” the day they had their first child. The day he emailed, his sister had just given birth to her second baby--that day! He was looking for a new piece, and my search for him, turned up today’s blog entry piece.
This is a dry point engraving. Dry point is part of the Intaglio (“to take away”) family of printmaking. To create this piece, Scot cut down a sheet of plexi-glass to size. He had long since moved away from toxic techniques like acid etching, etc. With the plexi-glass, we could clean up with vegetable oil. Scot loved sepia, the red-brown color you see today. This was probably one of five prints pulled from this plate. You can tell because of what print makers call ‘the burr’—that fuzzy, velvety line that is created when tiny little canyons that fill up with ink, are formed along the furrow the needle causes as it is dragged across the plain of the plate.
This burr goes away quickly. After only a couple prints are pulled, the line smooths out. When Scot and I would start a printing session, he would always try to ‘point up the plates’—try to drag up a little furrow. There was only so far you can ‘point up’ up a plexi-glass plate before you have created a ‘score’ (technical glass cutting term) and the plate snaps in half.
To create the washes on this piece; Scot saturated the paper with water. I have been reading my son’s high school Economics text. One can’t help but notice that the definitions of the more difficult words are inserted parenthetically after the word, so in this case it would be like …saturated (soaked a long time in water)… The paper these prints are made on are is 100% cotton. It’s tough. They don’t call it 'rag paper' for nothing. It’s actually made from cotton rags, and if you wadded it up, you could clean a window with it. Anyway, on this very wet paper, Scot laid down this loose and juicy sepia wash. What a joyful day it is, bringing ones baby home!
Today’s musical offering is another piece off the tape yesterday’s track came from--so that puts us back in 1986. On this track, Scot is jamming with himself. Each of these parts was laid down separately—each part a live recording. Check out Scot's orchestrational sense. Scot always had the keenest ability to layer things on in stunning and unexpected ways. Remember kids, this is all pre-garage band. The only thing out of the box on this piece is the drum track, which blog followers might remember on an earlier entry. This can become like a blog quiz. Today’s piece is entitled “Wake Up!”
Friday, September 11, 2009
September 11th now carries its own identity—a day when something happened—something that rocked the world. How can we ever forget that stacking up of floors—that dark cloud? Today’s music starts rather ominously, but gentles down in the end. This is a solo demo of an original electronic composition, “Techno Stomp I”—recorded on December 14, 1986. It is my ardent wish that the people who perpetrated the attacks of 9-11-01 come to be known their deeds and that their debt to us all be accounted for.
The artwork for today is a strange black piece. Here we have a tower falling into a hole in the earth. On the horizon there is an easel with some artwork on it that is leaving the building. On top of the tower is a little man who is holding high, a brick. There is another floating brick on the horizon. There’s a flying pincushion thing back there too. Our little man has launched a sailboat of love; out through the blackness it goes, trailing golden, blue and pink light. This original drawing was created in 1999. The line work was created with a fine point Sharpie. The washes are of transparent acrylic.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Comin’ back to me on the 5:03. I picked another “Carlyn Lindsey & Snake Doctor” rehearsal tape. I like the word rehearsal. We get to re-hear things. What was so cool about this band is that they really made some fun when they played. Carlyn was and is ‘super-charged” with instinct and pretty darn blessed with a classy set of pipes…
The words of this song make me kind of sad, because for me, it’s probably going to be a while, and that’s probably a good thing. I do remember going to pick him up, the couple times we actually did different things in the nearly 30 years we were together. I can remember that juicy anticipation. These days I’m left waiting on the platform for my 17 year old son to get home. I’m always glad when I hear his uproar come through the door.
This is a Snake Doctor rehearsal. Listen closely to how Scot drove the band rhythmically. A couple bars in, he shouts out to slow the tempo. Snake Doctor is a band that has always commandeered players with a lot of talent. Dave Witherd and Larry Vessilly were as good of players as Scot had ever played with, as you’ve heard all along on this blog. Tim is a drum who understands the necessity of funk. Scot brought this--totally funky his own bad self--bass presence to the band.
Today’s artwork is a college of sketches Scot has unified with his painting treatment. I love everything about this piece. The non-linear sketch-like quality. I’m especially attracted to the moon-mask. Today the artwork brings the continuity to the T. Scot Halpin Memorial blog. Here again is that $15. pen in action. What I find especially interesting is what he has chosen to wash out—very specific stuff. As a painter, one of my absolute favorite things is a series of primary color washes. If you look closely—all the colors are there.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
My friend Carlyn does a KA version of this tune. I figured that since the old “Plank Road” was so nice and dusted off that I’d just go ahead and play a sad song. I start out this entry mentioning Carlyn because, as all loyal T. bloggers know, Carlyn’s mom has just passed. I hereby extend the dedication of the T. Scot Halpin Memorial Blog to include the memory of Carlyn’s mom. Today’s music track is “Plank Road” sweet and clear. John Williams and Scot Halpin making some very real music together. Listen to the placement of all the parts: bass, vocals, guitar, drums (way back there).
Today artwork almost said it all. There are a few tracks I’m tempted to leave alone--the art and music saying it all. For the record however, this is an original drawing. The line work is brown Sharpie fine-point marker. The transparent washes are magical. I love this use of green. I’m looking at the yellow wash on the bird—wet-on-wet glow. This piece was done in 2001.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Zooming back to 1980. Our Punk/New Wave band “The Sponges” was very much happening, but at the same time, Scot was also hooked-up musically with our friends Dave Kinney and Peter Smith in a project called “The Double Cross Band”--doing ‘Americana Stuff’ before it’s recent rebirth as the contemporary soundtrack of our lives. Scot had a few songs that were written at this time that went on to be incorporated into set lists for various different projects throughout the years. In the course of preparing this blog, I have run across a couple tune-lets that had been left behind. Today’s track, a solo demo of his original, “If You Ain’t a Gift from the Gods” is a perfect example of this phenomenon. To give you an idea of just how 'thrifty' Scot was, this song is recorded over a demo tape we received when we were booking bands for The Roosevelt.
Regarding today’s artwork, I remember the day when Scot bought this pen. It would really aggravate him when he would actually want something that he considered expensive. This pen probably cost $15. To Scot—that was expensive. Scot bought this pen because he wanted to experiment more with pulling washes out of the actual line work of the graphic and this hideously expensive pen was especially designed for this purpose. In the face and hands Scot is playing with a technique to create 3-D modeling. I love this sweet angel. I’m high on believin’ that this is sort of how things are for Scot right now. He’s out there, not too far away, offering us all help and love he can—which is a lot—still very much engaged in the world. The way I see it (and I ain’t whistlin’ Dixie) a gift from the gods, no more certainly could be, than he.
Monday, September 7, 2009
I love Labor Day. In the old days, when I was a kid, newspapers had whole ‘labor beats’. That means there were a whole bunch of reporters all over, whose job it was to look at things from the side of the worker! Boy, we sure don’t have that now. Glad I saved “16 Tons” because it’s perfect for a Labor Day Stomp.
Today’s musical track features a session I have already mined. Hammering along on this BC session are special guests Larry Vessily on accordion and Mark Menaphe on rhythm guitar. Providing the mineshaft and equipment is Jerry Farnsworth providing vocals and lead guitar, Scotty--the vein—Halpin, on bass guitar and clanging along on that air pump of a drum track, is Kenny Wright.
I really had to look a long time-to-time today’s artwork. I just wasn’t finding anything that illustrated anything relating much to the ‘company store’. I chose this guy because he is related to the drawing in yesterday’s entry--only in this drawing--the eyes of the heart are clocks. On his hat, where a miner’s light would be, is another one—ticking away. This face seems to be covered in a smear. That smear could be coal, could be dust. Sweat cuts a drip in the mask. This original drawing was done in graphite. It crosses over into the realm of the painting with its vivid palate and the solid opaque of the mask. It’s very painterly.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Another Sunday space-out. Chose another nice long meditational track for today. This is another great piece to listen to through a good set of headphones. Scot called these works, ‘synthesizer aided mediations’—today’s track--“Synthey Medit I” is an 11:09 minute journey that crosses over the world and back on itself again, in several ways.
Throughout the song, things are echoing. Key passages pull the melody slightly off kilter, which has the effect on me at least, of a psychic nudge in the ribs. Just like in life, things may be going along swimmingly and then all of a sudden we notice that previously unperceived melodic tension has crept its way in. I think Scot always resolves this sweetly in this composition, which he created when he was Composer-in-Residence at the Headlands Center in Sausalito, California in 1987.
Today’s artwork is another original drawing done in 2002, on the page of a book. I’m guessing the writing is Persian? The drawing was done with a red fine-point, water-based, felt-tipped marker. The washes were created by pulling a water soaked paintbrush across the line work of the drawing. I love how Scot has rearranged features of the body. I had a Yoga teacher who once talked about opening the eyes of the heart, which are located right where this individual’s heart eyes are. For me the text on the page really weaves well with the music. Remember all blog artwork can be enlarged by clicking on the image
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Jerry Farnsworth stopped by yesterday to pick up Scot’s amp. “Jerry’s Kids” will be featured at the 4th Street Festival of the Arts and Crafts, which is taking place here in Bloomington this weekend. I am happy music is going to pour forth from it today. I asked Jerry about this session. With a little mental poke, I remember the whole story. Jerry was always on the look-out for promising BC invitees.
Aaron Persinger was one such character. His vocals pop. Also—this is all his own material. Scot saw an obvious sweet spot for his melodic bass lines, and jumped right in to make some jam. I have been a lead Scotiphile, since first laying eyes on him, but beyond all that, this is some tasteful bass playing going on—on anybody’s scale.
Scot was very excited by this session. He saw this kid as a pretty fully assembled package, and I think he thought his bass playing could become part of an expanded package. It didn’t work out that way. Jerry told me yesterday that Aaron didn’t think that much of the session. He had a chance to play with the other Bloomington drummer whose name is also Kenny—Kenny Arnoff, John Mellencamp’s drummer. I guess he thought that was a better bet. I don’t know what’s happened to him since. I’d like to add here, a nod to some pretty tasteful Jerry leads which make up a frosting for this cake.
Today’s artwork is a quick, probably incomplete original drawing. I’ve been looking at this piece for several days as I shuffle through the deck of cards that make up the body of work that Scot has left us. In this drawing I see a lot about some of the words to this song. I think it’s kind of like this for all of us—there’s a certain amount of stuff that works out best if it’s given away. Many contemporary business models are building in whole lines, designed to be given away. I’m finding it easier in general to want to spread some of the extra stuff I’ve got layin’ around—out and around. I like our little lady’s open arms. She’s got her windows wide open and energy is clearly set motion. She seems to be receiving a subtle little something right about her ‘crown’.
Friday, September 4, 2009
Today’s musical track is one of those reach into the pie and pull out a plum kind of searches and features the voice, guitar and original material of another Basement Collaboration guest, Aaron Persinger. I find the balance on this track, "Love the Rain" sublime. Aaron’s strong vocals and ringing guitar weaves in and out of Jerry Farnsworth’s interlocking spaghetti bowl leads. Kenny and Scot are locked in, as was their want. Listen to Scot’s bass line on this track--so brilliantly executed and exquisitely recorded. There is such a warm funky groove goin’ on here. I can’t relate to each and every word of the song personally, but I can deeply and expressly relate to loving the rain, and the swinging, mysterious, dirge-like quality of this song. After all the losses I’ve drawn, I’m down with an occasional dirge.
Today’s artwork is another pen and ink drawing done on Bristol board. The line work was done with a fine point Sharpie. The minimal transparent acrylic wash is so nice. I have already blown this one up (click on the image). The beauty expressed—the firmness of the line, the depth of the subject matter that flows with so much integration through the elements of the composition—all effect me in a way similar to the mood conveyed in today’s musical track. Life is two-sided.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
The old “Plank Road” has gotten a little buried in the sand and dust, so I got out the official Plank Road broom to uncover the outlines of the old road. Today’s song, "Newport News" was a “Plank Road” staple. Every “Plank Road” meal included a serving of this song, straight from the big fat ‘Jug Band’ bottom of the traditional music food pyramid. For those just checking in, the "Plank Road" line-up was: John Williams on guitar, vocals and kazoo, and our own beautiful Scot Halpin thowmping along the bassline horizon and throwing in a little 'salvation army' drum for good measure.
This track really captures the paces John Williams is capable of putting his kazoo through. I actually think that John might be the best kazoo player in the world. Hone in on the subterranean groove these two guys were capable of stirring up. I love the “Plank Road” ensemble because it left so much space around its elemental components. In yoga this is called the ether. Interesting how one of the fundamental building blocks is emptiness?
Today’s artwork is a graphite drawing on cotton rag paper. Scot’s done quite a bit of shading by pulling the graphite stub sideways across his paper. The color, once again, is transparent acrylic. Check out the way this pink and blue vibrate. Check out the sun’s little sweet cheeks. This angel’s horn looks to me like it might sound a lot like John’s kazoo.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
I recently realized that I have been gravitating toward all my personal favorites. Today’s song was one of Scot’s favorite songs. I was always slightly confused by the words. “Sock that money away...” This I understand. Saving money was one of Scot’s greatest pleasures. I was down with this to a certain degree. Scot realized early that if he was going to have a fighting chance of having a lifetime full of art making, he would have to learn how to live a ‘low-overhead’ lifestyle. This we did, with great aplomb, for many years.
I understand the “The scrapin’ for a dime, workin’ overtime” part. The part I have always been really confused about is the “Give your money to me, fulfill my destiny” part. This seems kind of antithetical to the “Sock you money away” message? Scot wasn’t usually a man of conflicting values. He was steady. The thing that is interesting to me is that Scot REALLY liked this song. To me it seems like kind of a little surrealistic pillow. I’m wondering, maybe I’m missing something?
There are many recordings of this tune, including several reggae versions. Today’s track is another solo demo recording, meaning that Scot is playing the guitar and doing the singing. It was recorded in 1991 in the front room of our Page Street (San Francisco) flat. Listen and you’ll hear a siren on the trailer screaming off into the city night.
Today’s artwork is a piece Scot did in 1978, the year we met. He put together several little books, organized around themes. In the book this drawing was taken from, every piece was based upon this '$" stamp. Scot loved books. I’ve come across several of theses little guys in my rough sort of the T. Scot Halpin Archive. This drawing shows a very practiced illustrative—almost cartoonish line. Scot loved this kind of graphic and would practic pulling his lines in sort of ragged ways or let his pen pool a little at a juncture.
Also, as previously discussed in this blog, Scot had a wide streak of airbrush artist in him. The spatters on today’s piece were actually applied with spray paint. A can of spray paint is in fact a chemically enhanced version of the airbrush. That’s why we call what makes a can of spray paint happen--propellant. This process is clearly in evidence in this piece.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Today’s musical track is a recording of another Basement Collaboration session featuring Larry Vessily on harp and Mike Stiglitz on space guitar. I love the ranging bluesy pace of this track. Scot liked playing with a full on blues brigade like this.
The artwork for today is a simple piece that may or may not have been finished. This little guy looks so much like he has the blues. He’s got the blues so bad, he is blue. Even the moon is blue about things. Scot did a whole series of these drawings, done with a quill pen and India ink, in 1997.