Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Value Added

Scot and I used to talk a lot about value added. Here’s an example of value added. Take a piece of paper. Add a squiggle—maybe even just a signature. Say you’re Pablo Picasso. There are stories of old Pablo, signing the cocktail napkin in exchange for his dinner, and the restaurateur coming out all the better.

Today’s artwork is a SCOT signature image. A Moon Man. Ironic? Iconoclastic? Is he in a boat? Is he popping out of a box straight out of a continent? What’s the deal? Are those fairies or angels hopping from platform to platform? Are they minding? Are they quite so trained as Mister Moon Man may think? Maybe not, but there is always that heart to guide them.

In this case, value added has to do with the fact that this is a lot the same musical track as I played yesterday. Value added here being the addition of a whole different vocal track—thank heavens. (I’ve had enough of that whole robot thing.) And in my opinion, here’s another huge value added consideration: a/n (?) whole ‘nother guitar track! Move over Neil. Yes, each and every one of these tracks is being laid down by our own dear, Scot—who was, and pretty much understood that despite everything, he was equipped to contribute to all of our where-with all. But throughout that time, he had to rely a lot on himself for motivation and affirmation. That’s also where I came in. Today’s track is yet a further reach for our destiny.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Will Do.

Any guesses what blog track was recorded with these same sonic parameters? If you said, “Born to Be Wild,” I here by dub you an official ‘Knight of the Scotish Realm.’ Same drum settings—same vocal treatment--same ragged guitar, hacking away, back in the mix—all this action very mid 1980’s. This is a solo demo (ie Scot is playing all the tracks) he did for “Folklore.” I especially like this recording for the way it captures Scot’s vocals. He had a wonderful voice, but sometimes he would slip into a humor trajectory, not wanting to take his vocals too seriously. In this track he lets his serious voice hang out. “Let’s Reach…” is the shorthand title of the song.

Today’s artwork is a magnificent piece done in 1995. Here Scot has laid down a semi-abstract base of magenta and yellow transparent acrylic wash. Into those still-wet colors, Scot has drawn his image with India ink from a dropper. This angel seems like a very ‘will do’ sort of guy. ‘Will do’, is an expression I re-encountered today. I like it. That and ‘gotcha’ are expressions Scot used a lot. It's kind of like a vow.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

What Are We Going To Do Now, My Love?

“Long gone.” I gush today. I walked into the room today and asked Scot for his assistance. This is what he came up with. Our musical track today is one from the deep archives. It’s another rehearsal tape. Amazing to me how solid the rehearsal tapes I’ve been playing are. Playing on the track is a musical ensemble, assembled by Edward Bachmann. The date on the tape is 1-2-89. (It must have been pretty late on the 2!)

“E.B. White”, so called because of Edwards’s love of E. B. White, the writer, and possibly too, that his initials just happen to be--E. B. Edward fronted the group, playing acoustic guitar and singing lead vocals. Backing him up are the super-charged harmonies of Ramona Torch and Judy Tampa. These girls could both drop a harmony part on a fart. Two part if you wanted it. They sang together a lot and were two thirds of another group-- “Girl Can’t Help It.” Jay Altobelli (not here) being the last girl who couldn’t help it.

Also similar to this outfit and “GCHI” is the drummer. Extra points to anyone who immediately knew Scot was playing the drums that night. Scot was also the original drummer for “Girl Can’t Help It.” He brought his massively funky beat, but also WAY too much personality for that particular group. Leland Monagle, of ‘Sponges’ fame, was brought in as ‘GCHI’s new drummer. Leland has his own funky beat and a massively mellower demeanor. The electric slide is being played by (I think) Bradly Bartel, but I do seem to remember Dave Barker somewhere in the lineup. I will seek further info.

Today’s artwork is a drawing pulled out of a box, pulled down from the shelf. It is a pen and ink drawing, with minimal acrylic was tinting. I see this as a good capsualization of my thoughts about the world, and life, and what happens next. There’s so much riding on the tip of that pencil. The love alignment here seems to be in place. I like the little house down on the ground with the wire stretching between two little telephone poles, and nowhere else.

Friday, June 26, 2009


OOPS. Gave a bunch of info you need for today in tomorrow’s entry. Don’t ask. It seems to happen in the blog world, from time to time. Check tomorrow’s entry for info on band lineup. The tune is one written by Edward Bachmann and possibly Judy Tampa. Edward is a real literary dude, and was another one good with the words (like John Williams).

Today’s artwork is a graphite (pencil) drawing, blocked out with acrylic wash and color spatter. Yesterday I was tired and trying to keep my fussiness under the radar, I wanted something that captured my feelings of being ‘done worn out.’ I found it ironic that this person in the drawing doesn’t have feet for the ‘new soft shoe.’

Edward and Judy and Ramona sound so sweet, but I ask you to hone in to Scot’s drumming. Notice how he won’t let anyone stray any too far of funky—deliberating slowing the band a couple of times—punching in several times in a very Levon Helms kind of way. Long live Levon. Long live Scot.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Pay To Play

I don’t think I could count the times I heard Scot tell the story of when Salvador Dali came to New York after WWII. According to Scot, he had $100,000, which he promptly gave to a publicist, telling him to make him famous. As far as I can tell, that was $100,000 well spent.

Today’s track was one of Ringo’s songs—Scot identified with Ringo. What must that have been like hang in such rarified air? Last summer, John & Julie—down the way—had their annual summer party. It just happened to fall on the six-month anniversary of Scot’s passing. Bobby Burns was there that night. I remember standing in the yard, listening to Bobby sing a song I’d heard Scot sing a million times before—in Scot’s same key. Scot and Bobby do not stand to differently in their stature. It’s nice to have Bobby around.

I choose the title tonight to hint at the reality that there are a lot of people with some considerable talent in the world. There are only a few who really make the big time. The rest of us are left with our toes to tap and our own musical identities to surge forth, here and there.

Here in Bloomington, it’s not unknown to pay to play—music Mecca that it is. In other words, you show up at a ‘Blues Jam’ or an ‘Open Mike.’ You buy a beer. You sing a song. You bring a friend or two. That’s the way it works. Pay to play. Sometimes that’s the only way. Today’s artwork is a charcoal/acrylic wash piece. More of Scot’s direct kind of action. Scot acting naturally.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wee Wee Wee All The Way Home

Learned one meaning of the brick out-house today. After the war—in London, many families had built little bomb shelters at the back of the yard. After the war: WTF. These were bricks we were talking about, so what might one do with them? Yes, people were still using outhouses at the end of the garden back then. Real plumbing is so much a luxury, I’m reminded of those people who cannot drink, let alone flush.

Tonight’s musical track is a BC recording, featuring: BIG, BAD, Bobby Burns. Yes, AKA: Robert Burns. When Bobby Burns came into the BC, Scot came straight home and said, “I met this guy tonight. He’s got my same repetoire. He sings in my key. He plays lead guitar—just like me. In keeping, I ask you, who’s doing what?

I choose today’s artwork, straight out of a box, full of treasures. This piece is a graphite drawing with acrylic wash highlights. I learned a little about Oustopathy today. There’s an element of focusing in on the bright light that burns at the core. That and lining things up. Ahhh, alignment.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

So What?

It’s back to the basic boogie-woogie for us all tonight. “Come on Momma—GET THAT RED DRESS ON!” Today’s track is another Scot Halpin rockabilly original, written in the early 1980’s. This one was always a favorite way back to the “T. Scot Bottom & the Rockabilly Funhouse” days, and it would always come out late in the set. Scot is working it out with “Funhouse,” his San Francisco Rockabilly outfit.

I hear Edward Bachmann, getting down and dirty on bass, a funkified Leland Monagle on drums. I hear Judy Tampa swinging through on rhythm guitar. She often did some knockout harmonies with Scot, and an occasional lulu of a lead vocal, but not today. And then we’ve got Scotty wailing away, in the simplest of ways on guitar and vocals. Dig the wail. Dig the yip. The name of the track is “Let’s Go Out Tonight.”

Today’s artwork is another piece drawn with a squirt bottle filled with extra thick India ink, onto a board that Scot had already laid some wet-on-wet color. The red come from a bottle of red paint that Scot always painted his hearts with. He’d just keep mixing it up, always using the same little bottle for the purpose.

So what about “So What?” We hear Scot settle the band into the groove. The band shifts into a flat out funky beat. At a flub, we hear Scot laugh and say, “Well that’s alright. So what?” And he’s right. I’ve been trying to focus on these two targets. Target #1: Today. Target #2: Have fun. All the mistakes, all the flubs, all the sunburns, are I suspect, just a part of being in on this rotation, so we might as well just try and enjoy ourselves AMAP. All that other stuff adds up to the big “So what?”

Monday, June 22, 2009

Dance Card

Ho, Ho. What have we here? Don’t look too close, and you won’t notice. Today's artwork is an original pen and ink drawing, colored with acrylic wash. The music for today is a song Scot wrote for “The Sponges”, back in 1979. He and I had dueling ‘I want to dance with you' songs. His (today's track) was called, “Baby Don’t Ya Do It.” Scot was enjoying learning to play the bass, and the punchy New Wave and Punk riffs were a fun place for him to start We recorded this track at a studio down in Redwood City (I’m pretty sure it was). "The Sponges" had won the recording session at a recent ‘Battle of the Bands’ in San Francisco. With us that night in the studio were the band’s friends, Pete and Mike. The improvisational spirit struck them both, all on their own. You'll hear them on the bridge. For me, it’s nice to hear their voices, and remember that time, and a lot of other good times.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Solstice Planning

Saved a super-goodie for today, the summer solstice. The spark for today’s track happened way back in the summer of 1980, while Scot and I were living large in Rhode Island. I remember Scot blocking this song in this little studio he’d set up. The good thing about Scot was that you could always give him the darkest, littlest room. He was not a fussy artist, who had to have things just so. I always felt he could work in the middle of a tornado.

Back in Rhode Island, he sketched out a few of the characters. We moved to Iowa City next and Scot worked with his dad to develop three wonderful children’s’ books and accompanying songs. Once again, Scot was ahead of the media curve. No one quite knew what to do with both a book and a song. He recorded this track on his Teac 4-track in our living room in Iowa City, the winter of 1981. Sounds like Alvin was brought in, but actually--that’s Scot, fairies, trolls and everything else going on, on the track. Today’s artwork is the cover for one of the little books Scot made for his Dad.


Friday, June 19, 2009

B Side

Get ready to dance around the room and maybe shed an article or two of clothing along the way. This is the next track up on yesterday’s disk. Wanting to get down to business, I mined a vein I knew to be good. The hand we were dealt from today’s shuffle of the deck is the Jaeger/Richard rock and roll staple, “Honkey Tonk Woman.”

This was the era when Scot was envisioning “The Rolling Bones,” his “Rolling Stones” cover band, for which his Bob Dylan cover band, “Bob Willin’” would open. You can see--he was off to a good start. Check yesterday’s entry for musical credits, except to add, Jerry Farnsworth guitarin’ somewhere in there--as per the usual (not the wha-wha). Kenny Wright admirably filling the crucial role of cowbell on this tune and more. And then there’s Scot—takin’ it apart and puttin’ it back together for us.

Today’s artwork is an accident. I spilled some water on my bedside table last night. I had to pick up a painting that was there, in order to wipe up the water. Behind the one painting, I found some more artwork. In thinking about artwork for today entry, I flashed on one of these newly revealed pieces. I brought one in, thinking it probably a bit too large for my scanner. I laid the painting down to turn on the scanner, and found this piece and the back of the other. I love serendipity

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Massively Grooving

Music today, courtesy once again of “The Basement Collaboration,” hosted by Jerry Farnsworth. Our track today is a beaut. Scot long loved Dylan (like so many of us), but at this time, he taught himself to play (and in this case—sing) some Dylan tunes, like, “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry." Joining “The BC” that night were Ric Dugger playing a guitar that sure sounds like a hollow-body to me. I love his nice ringing tones. Playing soprano sax (?) is Nelson (plays them all) Batalon. I love hearing Scot sink his teeth into this tune, massively grooving on both bass and vocals.

Today’s artwork is a piece that hints at some of the healing modalities that Scot was opening himself to during the last few years of his life.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Worth The Laugh

Back to rehearsal--another gold mine of a tape that I have already pulled several honking nuggets from. Today’s track is another one; “Hound Dog,” written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. We’re talking “Carlyn Lindsey & Snake Doctor,” back at the woodshed, in November 2003, working up their ever so spicy version of “Hound Dog”—yes, another tune from the ‘Dog Trilogy’.

Larry Vessily really had his keyboard fired up that night. I’m crazy about that ole’ honky-tonk sound, but… if I’m not mistaken, this is Scot banging away on the keyboards and Larry is on harp? That would leave Dave Witherd playing bass? I think I also recognize a certain groan. Could I be wrong?

The artwork is another piece done on a musical score. The white line of the drawing was done with a wax resist, and then the India ink wash was laid down on top. Arff.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Trying To Get Back To The Bottom

OK, I know that there are a few T. Scot Bottom & the Rockabilly Funhouse fans are out there going, “Hey! What was all that promise about rare archival tracks of TSB & the RFH? I know. I’ve been looking. There are recordings from at least four performances, but so far all the best stuff is still MIA. I will keep looking. My promise is still good.

Today’s track is another snippet of tape. I think this tape was to be a demo we’d use to try and get gigs over at the University of Iowa, in Iowa City, where were lived for a little less than a year, round about 1980 – 1981. We thought those sororities and fraternities might just jump at the chance to have some k-a Rockabilly Music at their upcoming bashes—get on down, as it were. I found the ‘cover letter’ for that project, a little while back. Ha Ha Ha!

Today’s tracks are from among the first tracks Scot recorded on his brand-new Teac 4-track tape recorder, during the winter of 1981. This was the first time I saw Scot lay out any big money. He bought this tape recorder, and you’d have think he’d died and gone to heaven. These tracks, a snippet of "Slippin' and Slidin'," written by Little Richard (Edwin Bocage), Albert Collins and James Smith and of "Blue Suede Shoes" by Carl Perkins were recorded in the basement of a certain house on Weir Street. The drum set is actually a certain desk/chest of drawers, and for the most part, the drumsticks were pencils that lay handy. FYI: One of the top five best concerts of my life was Carl Perkins opening up for NRBQ (!) in Providence, RI! Carl had his sons playing with him that night and it was super fine.

"Slippin' and Slidin'" was covered by Buddy Holly, John Lennon, Johnny Winter, Otis Redding, and “The Band.” Love those lyrics.

Slippin' and a-slidin', peepin' and a-hidin'.
Been told a long time ago.
Baby, I've been told,
baby you've been bold.
I won't be your fool no more.
Oh Malinda, she's a solid sender.
You know, you best surrender*
Baby, I've been told,
baby you've been bold.
I won't be your fool no more.

*Scot says some thing like "Horrender," but that sort of fits too.

Today’s art goes right along with the music. Buttons figured large in our life at this time (another story). This button is a real collaboration. I remember finding the tux at a thrift store in Rhode Island, while in search of finding shoes for my new waitressing job. We were living in a formerly grand summer cottage, hunting lodge furnished with some amazing pieces of furniture, which became Scot’s backdrop. I brought this tux home and our friend Jeff did this magical photo shoot, which this picture (of Scot--the band came later) came from.

Later in Iowa, once the band had been formed, Scot collaborated with the drummer, Tom Drew’s wife, Donna. Together they created a whole visual campaign. Another friend, Steve contributed 'largely' to the campaign. He also hooked us up with the Sheltered Workshop, in Muscatine, Iowa, and the folks there made these buttons for us, which we passed out at our gigs.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Drum Circle

Today’s musical track is a preview of an extended piece I plan to play later in the blog. For now--no, these are not whales. Scot had been named Composer-in-Residence at the, now prestigious Headlands Center for the Arts. I have hinted that there was a mutual lack of appreciation between Scot and some of the Center’s management. One of the really big deals for the Center that first year was an installation in the barrack building’s latrine, that would be both arty and serve as the Center’s public restroom facilities.

Artists were brought in to install, which they did. These artists decided there would be no need for separate men’s' and women’s' restrooms. OK. They fabricated the stalls from sheets of scratched on (maybe 1/4”) stainless steel, which was very heavy, and radiated cold in a 360 degree way. They also provided very good acoustics for all that went on in the room. Scot, however, immediately saw the acoustic possibilities of the massive steel structure these "stalls" came to be.

We went in late one night. I remember waiting until the management left. “Good Night!” And then we went into the latrine and set up Scot’s 4-track Teac. All the sounds on this tape were made there that night. He was mostly playing with a soft timpony-style mallet and some kind of scraping device. He ran around banging, a moving sound with the doors-—using his own body as a mute. Sounds like whales, doesn’t it? I’m looking forward to playing the whole piece. It’s called, ironically, “The Latrine Piece.”

Today’s artwork is a linoleum block print Scot did around the same time in the mid-1980’s. This piece was used to illustrate an interview with Mickey Hart of “The Grateful Dead,” in “Drum & Drumming Magazine.” Scot had work in magazines on the stands for a lot of the 1990’s. This piece was hand colored with acrylic wash, and is called, “High on the Peace Drum.”

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Father And Than Some

Scot came to the role of fatherhood reluctantly. We were together some fifteen years before our son James was born. I “turned up pregnant” at 37. Scot was not real pleased when the concept of fatherhood turned into a reality and then suddenly that reality became the main course of our dinner, subject matter-wise. But once he’d signed on, he was marvelous.

Scot was the most attentive of fathers. I’d bet that James and his father got to spend more time together, in the roughly sixteen years they had together, than most kids do in a regular lifetime. In that way, we were blessed. The reluctant dad turned into super dad, and then some.

Today’s art is a hand-colored etching. This piece was one of a series of miniature etchings Scot started in the late 1980's, after we’d seen an exhibition of Indian miniatures at the Asian Art Museum (which then shared the building with the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park at the time). Going small seemed to be a good move for Scot. It was also at this time that he was spending a lot of time with the de Grassi collection of Paul Klee’s work at the SF Museum of Modern Art. Scot adored the work of Paul Klee, who most often worked on a relatively small scale too.

At the point that we were discovering how well this intimate format worked with his imagery, we were also considering an entry into the world of the street art fair—which probably still happen in one Bay Area neighborhood or another, every weekend—all summer long. These little etchings seemed like they would make a good street fair “ware.”

Turns out that a lot of people have heard the word etching, but don’t really know how an etching is actually made. Scot had a miniature press that he started taking to the shows. He would pull prints right there in front of the booth. People were fascinated. Later, the addition of color, through hand coloring, and especially the naming of each piece, gave these little gems a lot of appeal. Today’s piece is called “Father and Son Reunion.” Scot and his dad definitely shared a profile.

The music today is a Basement Collaboration Jam, featuring Mike Stiglitz (the man of many boxes we’ve enjoyed before on this blog). Producing the tract and playing guitar is Jerry Farnsworth. On this track you will hear some lovely bass work, courtesy of our darling, here memorialized Scot Halpin. Also memorialized today, and doing some pretty immortal drumming is Kenny Wright. Kenny was one sweet guy. He was a dear friend, who both comforted and inspired Scot. I'm glad he went after Scot. Sorry about the abrupt beginning to this track. It settles the matter with a really cool ending.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Today This Time

A lot of days pass and we don’t lose anyone, but eventually a day comes that we do. Today’s memorial blog is dedicated the father of my friend, who passed last Monday. We all gathered today to help see this man's spirit on and to stand in loving support of his wonderful family (no better testament), who I learned today had been a drum major. And so for today’s art entry, I picked—a little drummer angel, which is another wash drawing, this time India ink, again done on a page of a wonderful old hymnal from 1932, as you can clearly see from my clever use of the scanner!

Once again, my garden is calling. I’ve got stuff that I bought at the nursery three weeks ago. I might as well throw my money into the garbage disposal, if I don’t get these plants into the ground soon. So, according, today’s music is one of my all time favorite “Plank Road” songs called, “Scout (Out On The Hi-way). It’s a good song for a memorial blog, and is especially fitting today. The track comes from the Farm Fresh session: John Williams-guitar, lead vocals & song writing credit) and Scot Halpin-tambourine drum, bass and harmony. Lucky for us, Scot is another of our scouts out on the hi-way.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Tale Of Three Pies

Pie #1

Pie # 1 was made five plus years ago. My kid and the neighbor’s kid somehow discovered a Queen Anne cherry tree laden with cherries--before the birds did. This neighbor's kid’s mother and I gave these kids permission to pick those cherries. What do you say to a kid who tells you, “Hey Mom, there’s this cherry tree over yonder and there are these cherries on it that are yellow and golden and seem right (ripe) for the pickin’--and plus it’s in a yard of a house where no one is living?” We (as intuitively engaged parents) said: O.K. you kids—go over there and pick those cherries—which they did. They had to cross a big wide street to do it, which they did, and god bless them the pie that was produced.

Those little guys brought back these warm and baked--in the golden sun way that is—precious little juicy 3-D fossils of the season. The boys took them to my dear friend’s house, who, god bless her, is known to some as April May. She is known to me as--a goddess of pastry (among other things) (I am here to tell you). April May (W.) took these Sunkist cherries and baked them into a pie, such as which the gods only occasionally get to eat. Thus its distinction as Pie #1.

Pie #2

I was hanging out with Scot and his family at Lake Okoboji, Iowa. Scot’s dad had bought a flat of beautifully ripe peaches. I decided (looking at this gorgeous flat of fruit) that I would use some of my juice to, otherwise wanting for fun and creative application of the moment there at the lake, to make a pie. (Even then I wanted to be known as a good pie maker--a distinction I have yet to achieve.) I knew those peaches were sweet, but I did not really know how to make a pie. I thought the peaches so sweet enough on their own, that I didn’t need to add any extra sugar to the mix. Couple this with the fact that I let my little nieces use the piecrust as play-dough. The pie turned out to be, frankly inedible. The crust was so tough one could not chew it, and the delicious peaches became so unpleasantly tart one could not imagine why one would have wanted to eat them in the first place.

It was here I learned that even good ingredients don’t guarantee a good outcome. There are these secrets. For example—with pastry, that are meaningful. There are secrets it behooves one to find out about.

Pie #3

I have some friends now—friends who look after me and figure so much into my life that I can do no more than to count my blessings and to open my eyes and everything else and capture as much as I can from these two wonderful people. I’m speaking here, once again of Jerry and Judy Farnsworth. These guys are neighbors and friends. The other day Judy called and asked if she could stop by with a piece of strawberry –rhubarb pie (from her own garden as well as her oven).

I did not deny her. Why would one? On it’s way to me was a delicious piece of pie. The guy who is singing this song has eaten a similar piece of pie made by this same woman. Any guy who’s “ready for his pie,” has it all right.

Enough with my take. Song: BC: Scot, Kenny, Jerry, plus Michael S. - More on this guy later. Pie, pie, pie. It actually makes me feel weird to make a page and a half entry and not mentioned Scot. This is a memorial blog after all. So to conclude, so much for pies. So much for living in a way that acknowledges the benefit of knowing how to turn up at somebody’s house when pie is being served. So much for knowing how to know from where you came, and then even more interestingly, where you are going. I am now headed out into a direction that is of my own making and is a direction that reflects my own desire to fulfill my dreams. This is a geuine Basement Collaboration. Listen to all the people wailing in the background,

Checking in, nodding… (because it’s late) and everything else. I picked the song today because it was #6 on the track and I wanted to celebrate John William’s 60’Th birthday.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sponge Diving

Hissssssssss…… OK, sorry. This is a crumby tape. I know there is a master tape somewhere, but for today I play a cheap demo with a lot of miles on it. I go so far today, as to play I song I sang with The Sponges, way back in 1979, “Depression Is The Bottom Line (But There’s No Place To Sign). Remember now, these were the days of Punk and New Wave. I remember being terribly glad the Seventies were about to be over. To me there were two parts to the Seventies. The part at the beginning that was still really the Sixties, and then along came this horrible period that involved the creation of some very loathsome clubs. I remember “Dance Your Ass Off” a particularly hideous example in SF. Don’t get me wrong. I love disco. “Bah, bah, bah, bah, stayin’ alive…” Do you know that this song is perfectly timed to give CPR to?

OK, so this is “The Sponges”: Scot Halpin, leader, bass-player, one of two songwriters and vocalists, the other being Joe Belche, who was also responsible for some of the truest rock and rock vocals I ever heard, and killin’ on the Peavy. Drums come down to Leland Monagle. The ‘Garage Band’ track on this piece, looked like a healthy EKG—boom, boom, boom. The vocals are provided by none other than your humble podcaster--moi!

The song is about another financial crisis, which looking back—was another hard time. I remember Scot and I trying to buy a house in San Francisco and the interest rates on loans was like 17%. Scot usually brought me out for three songs in the middle of the set. This was one of my favorites, although I did find it a rather tricky one to come in one time on, and hey, I was almost in tune.

Today’s artwork is another black and white ode to the nature of things. Looking at the drawing, my mind took a lot of turns. I settled in on the words—be happy with what you have. Weird. Not “Let’s tip this thing over.” Not “Let’s escape.” But rather, be happy with what you have. Been feeling very happy these days.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Sally Forth

Good morning, good people. Today I am taking the advise of a friend and firing up the scanner again for today’s art entry. Here’s another piece, obviously done with the same pots of paint as the 6/5/09-Take the World in a Love Embrace entry. I choose this piece because I am sending Scot’s healing art energy to Korea. When people start acting against their own best self-interest, it becomes hard to predict what they might do.

Scot and I have always stood in support of a free and open media, believing STRONGLY that journalists should not be sentenced to twelve years hard labor for doing their jobs. Heading off toward Korea are a beautiful little angel, people (?) with power to the rescue, and the growing edge of art-power.

As for today’s music—sorry about the poor audio quality. Today’s song, “The Rule of the Devastated Man” is a demo made for Folklore in the late 1980’s. Once again Scot is roughing out his tracks, creating musical parts and blocking out the lyric structure. Because the audio quality is so poor, I’m going to toss out a few tidbits:

Tragic—freedom qualities gone.

I want the rule of a devastated man.

Don’t wear that face, when you cut with that knife.

I smell the blood of an english man.

I’ll do my time, if the sandman does me.

Rubber Man, stealin’ the land.

In a nutshell, this is a song about colonialism and the ravages that system loosed upon the world. What I think Scot was trying to point to in this song, is the growing gap between the haves and the have nots in today’s world. I think the rule of the devastated man, points to a desire for rule by those who have suffered and survived. The devastated man is I think, a humble man. ‘The Rubber Man’ on the other hand, sucks the juice out of things, or blows stuff up to get at what he wants. I smell the blood of an english man. An easily enough recognizable scenario. I do my time, if the sandman does me—blessed sleep--escape.

Scot went on to record this song this song with “Folklore.” In that arrangement (which I will play down the line) Scot modulated the song up a half note, three or four times during the song, creating a steady gradual build up, to a drum-smashing conclusion. Listening threw head phones is a good way to get in more on the lyrics—and DEFINITELY—blow this one up!!!

Monday, June 8, 2009

A New Day

Feeling good after some necessary down time. Down time is a thing that, in general, is hard for me. I tend to feel guilty about it—even beat myself up. Today I had the realization that a lot of that has to do with the fact that I feel such a tremendous commitment to Scot’s work. It’s like having a little baby now, there's a lot to do to take care of it—including discover it! There are some things I don’t particularly like doing—like making follow-up calls and that kind of reaching out—the metaphorical changing of diapers. I’m looking for a gentler motivator then the ‘beating up of self way’. I realized now that I can get a lot of energy just by focusing in on how excited I am about Scot's artwork and music, and how amazing it is that I in charge of it.

Several years ago, I took a weekend workshop with Jean Houston. Jean Houston can portray the goddess for me anytime. She draws a lot upon the wisdom and energy of Athena--she even looks like Athena. She’s extremely tall and statuesque to the nth. She’s a Shakespearean actress who grew up having conversations with Teilhard de Chardin. She has many brilliant, beautiful books, and I recommend them all. Thinking of all the stuff I have to do, that I kind of don't want to do, I remembered this workshop, and how JH had suggested that we try creating a detailed character in our minds, who would LOVE (and be good) at doing the jobs we don’t want/like to do, (here's the trick) and then ‘begin acting’ like that character. Brilliant! …It’s terrible how many brilliant things I’ve forgotten.

Today’s artwork, is an easy gentle piece done 1999-ish, entitled, “New Day.” This piece is from a series of paintings done on 20 X 24” canvas. The line work was done with a brown permanent marker. Once again, all the main elements were painted with transparent acrylic. The gradated backdrop and 3-D shadowing effect came after Scot digitally photographed the canvases and then loaded those images into computer files, for a whole new round of manipulation. This image was always very popular, in part I believe, because I think people were resonating to the idea of starting off fresh.

Today's music is a tune from the "Folklore" opus. "Folklore was around 1989 - 1990. The band line-up, for those just joining the blog, was: Scot Halpin - guitar/vocals/songwriter, Edward Bachmann playing bass and Johnny Law on drums and other percussion. The song is a Scot Halpin original, called "I Want the Light."

I will fill in the holes from last weekend (and elsewhere) as I go along. I also see now that this blog is a living, breathing thing—with its own high qualified needs. But I also realize it is all up to me, and for a while, I’ve been pushing pretty hard. The last couple of days, I’ve been down with the chill, but you know I will fill in the nil.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Take the World in a Love Embrace

Get your motor running…beep-beep-beep. I am just now mastering the scan. This opens up a huge treasure trove of possibilities. But first, I must speak of the music. Went over to the bucket this morning, and pulled out this clean non-marred translucent cassette? Turned out to be a solo recording of Scot doing an off-beat(?)arrangement of the "Steppenwolf" classic, “Get Your Motor Running”--c. 1986. The label was specifically marked, “Noise-reduction: OFF.” I’m pretty sure this was done right around the same time as “Owner of a Broken Car” (comedy). Very much the same production quality, and ‘Weird Al-esque’ arrangement.

By 1986, Scot had pretty much finished up with his full-on rockabilly stint. At this point, he was back in school, getting his masters at San Francisco State. He was doing a lot of loopish computer music--“Cocktail Music of the Future,” we called it. He had popped for a semi-expensive ‘Sequential Circuits-six track'. This was a fully programmable six-track sequencer synthesizer; which made it complicated and hard as hell to run--not like stuff that came soon after that was playable out of the box.

Scot was getting back into this very keyboard toward the end of his life, using it for meditational loops. He even made a computer form to record his settings, so I have those settings and hope someday to fire them up. As for the artwork, WOW—so much to say, but we’ll leave it at this. As previously mentioned, Scot sought out interesting surfaces upon which to conduct his art. Again, yeah Bloomington, he would scour the weekly library book sale for maps, music—anything graphic—anything with visual as well as informational tit-bits which would imbue the piece with serendipitous context--be it historical, geographical, political, or just plain elementally interesting.

Today’s art piece illustrates today’s blog entry title, “Take the World in a Love Embrace,” pulled straight out of today’s song. How nice! It is done on a map of the South Atlantic. This is a good piece to click on and blow up after the music. Sadly, I think this map show us pretty clearly (under the artwork) the area where an airliner full of people recently crashed into the sea. Since this is a memorial blog, I extend the circle today to encompass all those whose lives have been impacted by this crash, and to those who have passed—and to anyone else whose life has recently been affected by the crash of death.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Wood Sheddin'

When Scot and I and James (age 3, now 17) moved to Bloomington, Indiana in 1995, we were launching our newly improved summer art fair business, we had sort of jettisoned our San Francisco “music-thing.” I think this was a similar moment to another story told in the very first entry of this blog(03-09-09/“The Transparent Dimension.”)

When Scot and I left San Francisco permanently in 1995, honestly, we had some hard feelings under our belt (music-wise). I know now that a city is a city, and people do come and go. I really relived THAT feeling when I was in NYC a couple of weeks ago. I looked around and saw myself, moving to SF in 1974. I saw myself at 19 - 39, wide-eyed at "The City," and tucking in. The thing about that is, that as people move on: so do loyalties, and so do “hook-ups.”

For a long time after we’d moved to Bloomington (two years?), Scot was pretty content to play the role of the summer art fair—really cool--graphic artist. He was—-no if ands or buts about it—-thrilled to see people lined up to buy his artwork. We talked about the music and thought about what might come next, but Scot already had a lot under his belt, indigestion-wise, as far as the music “BIZ” went. Rejection is a complicated word—-it brings into question the difficult question of what is of benefit and what is not. In the frozen winter of 1997, we moved to our second place in Bloomington. Once we got settled in, I immediately began to notice Scot rummaging around to make some room for music.

He bought a couple of $100 keyboards (which by 1998, meant quite a lot technologically in his hands). I refer back to the days--not that long ago--when “double-tracking” was state of the art. The recording of one’s self was not the democratic affair it is these days. One had to twist dials and make patches and deal with an extreme level of technical working things through.

He started doing (at least) daily (what I called then and now) “Concerts for the Angels.” He would fire up a few tracks on his newly acquired keyboards: Cassio Etal, and soon (let me witness), everyone within sonic distance was communing with the angels. I, personally, considered each and every one of these “concerts for the angels”--a blessed event. Not to be too dramatic, but that’s the way it was.

Around that time, Scot started checking in with the music collection of our beloved public library, the MCPL (Monroe County Public Library). I have referenced Bloomington as an extreme music town. I can’t stress that enough. I have a friend who has been the property inspector of some real estate I’m buying (I ask myself: “What’s cheap?”) and this guy happens to be a deeply respected music friend who’s got his own huge music credentials. That’s the way it is here in Bloomington.

Once Scot discovered the library, and the indescribably amazing collection of music that is housed there, he took off. He went into what he called his “wood-shedding period.” He had no desire and no instinct to do anything other than to play along with the best he could find—-all the people who were grooving along the way he wanted to groove.

He’d stand alone in a dark corner of his room, jamming along to every god he could flop into his CD player. He spoke to me about the concept of wood-shedding. He felt safe—-practicing. He knew that he had instinct. He even knew he had a gift—but he was always humble. I think what this part of his life was about was about was making himself worthy.

Here’s the lowdown on today’s musical track. No, this is not Carlyn, even thought one can imagine her doing this song. Sad to say, I cannot properly credit this song. Shortly after the dawning of the wood shedding period, Scot reached out locally.
One of his first contacts was a guy who had an ad up in the local music store. (I’ll have another story about this very circumstance—later.)

Scot hooked up with a guy named Rob who lives somewhere south of Bloomington. Scot answered a ad—reaching out into the darkness. Turns out (being Bloomington) the guy was interesting. He was teaching drumming. He had been making his living as a drum teacher/drummer his whole adult life. Scot went down a couple of time to play with him, and one night there was this girl there.

She is only refered to as “Rob: Female Singer” on the tape. I remember him coming home from this session. He was always amazed when he encountered ordinary people who have their soul in line with the music. This, as yet unidentified “female singer,” had a little kid there that night. I remember Scot commenting what a sweet little kid he/she was.” That kid is probably graduating (or near) from high school this year. MY, MY, MY.

When Scot started playing out, being the dyslexic he was, he taped (or scrawled) every contact he made on a scrap piece of mat board. One day, that piece of mat board went missing. At the time, is was a problem, and rather inconvenient, because it contained info that had been experientially collected and suddenly—was gone.

I remember the business card taped to the mat board. I remember that Scot loaned this guy a bunch of really cool CD’s which I can’t list, and have to let go. Any one with a proper credit—who remembers this night—please contact me. Sorry about the cut-off at the end, but that's another song.

Artwork--another black and white piece. Woodshedding. That's a black or white issue. You are either practicing or you're not. Sorry about the scary imagry. I was riffing of the lyrics of the song--the visitor soldier--another sort of black and white encounter.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Pack My Grip (small suitcase)

Just found out I won’t be packing my grip (small suitcase) as I thought I would have to. Instead, I’m going to have more time for the garden, lunch with friends and all the really important stuff. YEAH! What that means today is that this is going to be a short entry. Our music comes from, I believe, another “Carlyn Lindsey & Snake Doctor” rehearsal tape. I appreciate the clarity of the band’s launch into uncharted rhythmic waters right from the beginning of the song, but I love the vamps! Thanks to Carlyn and Tim for last Sunday, and everyone else who lent a hand. It was all so nice.

Today’s artwork was selected to go along with the breezy vector of Carlyn’s take on this song. This is a sepia wash, done with a Japanese calligraphy brush, onto a page of a gospel hymnal, “Glorious Gospel Hymns,” published by the Nazarene Publishing House, 1933. This hymnal is chock-full of drawings and paintings.

Monday, June 1, 2009

On Home To Me

Today’s track is dedicated to two people who have decided to get married. They are a sweet couple as well-suited to each other as the day is long. Their life together has been about friends and family and fun—F to the third. I’ll leave it at that. All the words in today’s song don’t fit the situation, but I choose this song because we get to hear a tad of Blue Jazz. The track is cut short, but we get to hear Irene slip into and out of, “Bring It On Home” by Sam Cooke. I so much like the feel of this song. It was part of Scot’s regular repertoire, for years. Blue Jazz, for the record, means Jerry Farnsworth on guitar, Kenny Wright on drums, Scot Halpin on bass, and Irene, of the velvet vocals.

Today’s artwork is about putting all the pieces together. This image started out as a graphite drawing. The sun, house and world are colored with transparent acrylic wash and the sky and clouds are some more of the experimenting with some of the possibly too cheesy digital clouds. I do absolutely love the color of the sky and the sweet expression on the face of the sun.