Month: August 2009

You are my candy, girl…and you’ve got me wanting you.

Max came over this afternoon, and love — I mean music — was made. Here’s a little bit of what we ended up doing.

I recorded about half an hour of video, and a bit more than that on digital tape. This right here is something we improvised out of thin air, followed by a bit of goofing on Dan Hill. Later on we goofed on “Lean on Me”, complete with beat-boxing, and Max provided some warped singing for a version of “Sugar, Sugar” unlike any you’re likely to have heard before. It was kind of sinister. There was a lot more jazzy improvising in-between, but I think the song in the above video might have been the best thing to come out of the afternoon.

I like how the music is evolving every step of the way. It starts off pretty free and a little dissonant, it floats around without any firm rhythm or direction for a while, and then rhythm is introduced and things start to take shape, only to keep on shifting until rhythm floats away again and the whole thing wafts away into nothing. It’s a nice feeling, being able to play with someone where you can improvise without any idea of what you’re going to play or what’s going to happen, not working from any preconceived musical ideas at all, but because you’re listening to each other and always changing and refining what you’re doing based on what the other musician is doing the results tend to sound more like songs than aimless noodling — all without anything ever being the least bit “written” at any point.

I might start out following what Max is doing on the bass, or he might start out following me. Then we might switch places when the other person introduces a new musical idea. Before long it becomes impossible to tell who’s following who. It’s an organic process of mutual exploring.

And just like back in the band days, listening to what was recorded is like hearing the music for the first time — a wholly unpredictable experience, because once we’ve finished playing we’ve already forgotten what we just did, since it was just growing out of the moment anyway. This is a universe and a half away from anything I was doing with the band, though, and I’d feel wrong trying to sing on top of this music. Seems like it should stay mostly instrumental to me. It’s also fun to concentrate on one instrument, challenging myself to see what I can wring out of it, instead of playing thirteen different things.

I guess this is my roundabout way of saying, “I like making music with Max.”

We came full circle just as I ran out of time on the camcorder with a mantra-like improvisation that had both of us singing and making odd noises, complete with Max speaking ethnic-sounding nonsense in a Stephen Hawking voice and some unexpected but somehow perfectly-timed vocal harmonies. It was epic. But we need to overdub some additional vocal nonsense before it’s ready to leave the womb. We weren’t using any vocal mics, so our voices aren’t as present in the mix as they could be. They’ll need a little help.

Again, apologies for the crummy cinematography. I ended up cutting Max’s head off in an attempt at getting both of us in the frame, and trying to work around the microphones didn’t make it much easier. Next time I’ll make sure both of our faces can be seen, or else I’ll hire someone else to work the camera and provide some movement and a more interesting visual representation of whatever we’re doing musically (not a bad idea, come to think of it). But I’m really digging being able to capture video footage of stuff like this and then being able to put it up here so you can see it.

While the sound of the recording is much better than this, the little video camera does a surprisingly good job with the audio. If you’ve got a decent pair of headphones, or computer speakers with a good amount of dynamic range, the bass and piano should both come through pretty well. You don’t quite get all the nuances (some of the bass harmonics aren’t that well-represented), but you don’t come here for nuance anyway. You come here for the steak and baked potatoes.

(Edit: I later came back to the raw video and synchronized it with the recording proper, making for a much nicer audio experience. You lose our “Let It Be”/”Letter B” silliness at the end, but gain a whole lot of sound quality and — you guessed it — nuance.)

I don’t know if anyone around here (or elsewhere) would be into listening to more of this sort of thing, but I’m tempted to put together a whole CD of instrumental improvisations like this with Max. A few more jam sessions and there might be enough for a full-length album. As much fun as it might be to add all kinds of other sounds and instruments to the mix, I like the way things sound with just bass and piano. There’s lots of space.

I like space. It tastes like…spaciousness.

It feels like we can do more with just the two of us than we could if other musicians were involved. And if we played at a place like, say, Taloola, I’d have half a mind to throw out any existing songs of my own and just unleash an hour of heavily-improvised instrumental explorations along the lines of what’s in this video.

I don’t know. Something to stew on. I can tell you right now, if we do end up playing another show I’m renting a real piano for the occasion. Upright piano, upright bass, and a relay race. Who could ask for anything more?

In other news, CREATIVE NIGHTMARES is on the CJAM charts, much higher than I thought it would be, right here. Madness, I tells you. Thanks, as always, to everyone at CJAM for all of the support — particularly to Adam Fox, Cassie Caverhill, Adam Peltier, Jan Blondin, Mike Whaley, Jon Nehmetallah, Max himself, Nicole Markham, Cristina Naccarato, Jim Meloche, Eric Arner, Dale Jacobs, Kyle Lebel, Murad Erzinclioglu, and if there’s anyone else who’s been playing my stuff and I don’t know about it, thanks to you too. I’ve had more booklets/inserts made and am in the process of rebuilding my stockpile of CDs, because they seem to be going a lot faster than usual. Must be because my face is on the cover for a change.

Nothing involving Cheetos can ever be pointless.

racy cheetos?

I was just on CJAM talking about the new album and general Johnny things. It was a little last-minute, so I couldn’t warn y’all beforehand, but you can check it out here if you like.

CJAM NIMBY snippet from August 25, 2009

My brain was a little soggy at the time. Still, I think it’s safe to say I was full of scintillating information and dirty jokes. Only not. Thanks to Adam for chatting with me. That’s the first time I’ve ever done a radio interview over the phone. Dig the lo-fi lisp of imposition.

I’ve always been a sucker for that telephone vocal effect. I used it in the old days once or twice — most notably on “Ebenezer Scrooge” on DON’T TALK LIKE A BABY ten years ago. I need to pull that sound out again one of these days.

I’ve gone through at least a hundred and thirty copies of the new CD already in less than two weeks. That’s insane. I’m already close to needing more booklets, inserts, and jewel cases. AN ABSENCE OF SWAY and IF I HAD A QUARTER… are pretty close to being “out of print” too, because I’m more or less out of inserts for them. I guess those subliminal messages I planted in the songs have really started to kick in.

On a random note, I think I need to write a song called “The Rise and Fall of Steven Seagal”. It will be at once uplifting and heartbreaking. It will also be a psychobilly polka.

A bit of what I did this morning/afternoon, and an unexpected new addition to the family.

Apologies for the shitty framing/cinematography. Filming oneself while recording is not an easy thing to do. One thing tends to suffer in favour of the other, and in my case it’s the filming that’s going to take a hit to the ‘nads in favour of the music.

The ideal situation is to have someone else manning the camera. That way you don’t end up, say, cutting your own head off with a music stand while recording drums. You can also get some camera movement happening to make things more visually interesting. But for the time being I have no one to film me. So I thought I might do it myself, to give you a bit of an idea of what happens when I’m doing some of the things I do.

In the interest of keeping things from getting too bland, there are only bits and pieces of what I did. I don’t think watching entire vocal takes and drum performances would make for very interesting viewing. So here! Have some bits and pieces!

Thanks to Stephen for linking on Facebook to the sale of that combo organ on Kijiji. I first thought, “That looks cool, but I don’t have the room for it.” Then Johnny Smith and I went out there to Tecumseh, I played the organ on the deck of the nice dude who was selling it, and as soon as I started playing “Alabama Song” by the Doors and got a Farfisa-ish sound out of it I knew I was done for and it was coming home with me.

I’m not sure it really fits in this song, but that organ will definitely be showing up on future albums. You can coax some cool sounds out of it, with a grit and personality no digital organ emulation can tap into.

Also, you can’t really see the stereo ribbon mic in front of the drums, but I assure you it was there. Or maybe I just recorded the drums without microphones at all. Like magic.

She’s just…a little fishy.

Now here’s a blast from the past.

Ten years ago I got a summer job working at WOHIS with two other young ‘uns as part of a United Way-funded program called SPEEC (Student Program to Eliminate Environmental Cancers). Our job was to create an original video examining environmental cancers, and also to put together a gigantic package of research material to accompany the video. We all contributed pretty much equally, doing research, amassing material, doing an incredible amount of typing, transcribing video interviews, filming at various locations, and interviewing cancer survivors and friends, learning as we went.

We called the video Fish out of Water. It’s not the most professional thing ever made, to put it kindly, but it was fun to do. It even made the rounds at some schools for a hot minute and was shown a few times on local television.

I was the youngest of the three. Greg and Libby had both been driving for a good few years. I didn’t turn sixteen until the program was just about finished. I could write a book about the strangeness of my first proper summer job. Libby and Greg had this bizarre rivalry that seemed to disguise some grudging attraction, and I doubled as spectator and occasional co-conspirator. Both of them got along pretty well with me but showed open contempt for each other.

We didn’t say much to one another for the first few days. It was kind of awkward. We were three strangers who felt way out of our depth. None of us had ever done anything like this before.

One day I brought the first album I was ever able to put on a CD instead of a cassette tape with me to work along with my DiscMan, and somehow that insane, lo-fi, sex-drenched album broke the ice. Greg and Libby both listened to it and liked it. That blew my mind. Stranger still was the sight of Libby with headphones on listening to “Foreign Waste”, keeping a stone-cold straight face as she worked while listening to me sing about penises that were too wide to hold inside and wretched skylines caressing themselves.

“Damn you, John,” Greg said before we went home that day. “I’ve got that song ‘Yer Boobs’ stuck in my head now.”

I was able to break up all the research and writing by sneaking in some songwriting time, typing up a lot of twisted lyrics at one computer or another. And my mock interview with Peter Infante will forever live on as the man’s greatest tribute.

There was the time Libby told me all my songs were about sex, and we joked about the immaturity of my lyrics as I drew a doodle of a naked dude saying in French, “Yes, Libby — it’s true! I am a nymphomaniac!” on a large easel pad of paper we would use to jot down ideas, with her laughing and egging me on.

Imagine my surprise when our nominal “boss” found that drawing and gave me a savage dressing-down for being a horrible human being and insulting my coworker’s womanhood in such a disgusting way. I was so caught off guard, it never occurred to me to explain that there was an audience for the whole thing (Greg was present for the drawing’s creation, along with a few others) and it was made at her request. By the time I thought to do that, I decided to leave it alone. Given what a humourless power-tripping hypocrite the boss was, it probably wouldn’t have made a difference.

There was the day Libby and I had some fun recording ridiculous voiceover material that was never used, improvising insane things and inventing funny voices. I wish I had the rap song about cancer I delivered in the voice of a dog.

There was the time I brought a bunch of equipment with me outside of the workplace to interview Gord and dropped the camera on the sidewalk. My heart was in my throat for a second. It didn’t end up incurring any damage.

There was the time a French-African man was helping out with some technical stuff around the office. He spoke very little English. When I thanked him in French for helping me figure out how to use a tricky camera tripod, he started yelling at me for not thanking him in English.

There were lots of good conversations with Mike Lawson about music. Mike paid me a great compliment one day when I gave him DON’T TALK LIKE A BABY to listen to and asked him what he thought.

“I hear a bit of Lou Reed and Neil Young in there,” he said. “But I also hear a lot of Johnny West.”

I miss that guy.

There was the time I was filming random goofy things to try and figure out how to work the camera early on. Everything I filmed was silent, because there was no microphone connected to the camera. I captured myself throwing my body around an empty office and holding an empty jug of water over my head.

There was the time Greg captured the iconic “dead fish out of water” shot and said, “Oh yeah…oh yeah! That’s the money shot right there!”

(Sadly his voice was removed from the soundtrack in post-production.)

And then there’s my goofy “What is Cancer?” educational segment. The introduction was just me goofing off on-mic before getting down to serious voiceover business, and yet for some reason everyone else liked it enough to keep it, adding touch of irreverence to a video about a pretty serious subject.

You see what I mean. I could keep going.

One of the most interesting parts of the job for me was having the opportunity to create the soundtrack. I assumed I would go home some days and put the music together in the tiny studio I was working out of at the time. Maybe I’d ask Gord to help a bit.

I even had a little jingle worked out with some pretty deep, thought-provoking lyrics. Check it out.

Turned out I didn’t have the luxury of working with anything like conventional musical equipment. The boss who chewed me out for drawing the Libby-approved naked picture (and made me throw it in the garbage while glaring at me) bought some weird computer program for me to use. There would be no real instruments involved.

I’d never worked with a program like that before, and I never would again. I forget the name of it now. It was something like a primitive form of Adobe Music Maker.

I don’t think it even offered the option to choose what notes you wanted to play. You had a bunch of pre-recorded samples you could arrange and stack on top of one another, and that was it. Working with canned sounds was not my thing, but after a day or two of messing around I started to get the hang of it. A lot of it was trial and error. Choosing between fifty different bass lines and figuring out which notes/patterns to use. Then trying to figure out which drum beat, guitar part, and keyboard part would fit with that. Then doing it again from scratch for every additional measure I wanted a “song” to have.

It was slow going, and most of the provided sounds were pretty abysmal shit. There wasn’t much to get inspired about.

I got some encouragement from Mike when I played him some bits of things I was working on and went off in search of the video’s theme song. The first piece I thought had some potential was a riff-heavy electric guitar thing with some ridiculous solos. No one else was feeling that one. A strange piece with some interesting organ chords got a better response, but it wasn’t considered catchy enough. I got access to some CDs of additional sound effects I could import into the program. I liked a dark guitar-driven piece I came up with, but when I imported some “baby crying” sounds into the song they got sped up and sounded bizarre.

Then I hit on a synth string riff and started building a weird little dance song around it, dropping in funky bass lines and sax sounds. I messed around with reversing and manipulating some of the sounds and made the second half a little wilder, with dissonant sax harmonies, backwards canned vocals, and a bit of backwards piano.

Finally, I was able to warp some pretty ridiculous limitations into something interesting and come up with a piece of music that felt like me.

I didn’t expect anyone else to like it. The first time I played it for Greg he said, “You started out strong, but it’s all downhill once the sax comes in.” Everyone else went nuts and said this was just the theme song our little video needed.

We recorded it from the computer onto a cassette in mono and then converted that back into digital form so it could be dumped onto the designated video editing computer. Talk about degradation of sound quality.

Very little of the other music I came up with was used. One brief bit of the first electric guitar song was inserted at one point, but for the most part all you hear is the theme song looped and repeated now and then before coming back with a vengeance at the end. Most of the other incidental music isn’t mine at all (though I got credit for it), but fragments of stock tracks that came with the program as examples of what you could create with it. The cheesy dance organ bit around the three-minute mark is one of these. I never would have made something like that.

Seemed like a waste to not only not allow me to construct the music in any natural way, but to ignore most of what I was able to do with the limitations imposed upon me. Still, it was an interesting challenge, and I did manage to wrestle one interesting piece of music out of it.

I made a pretty good amount of money for working at my first real job while I was still in high school, so that was nice. I used the money to buy a drum set the following summer. Those are the same drums you hear on my albums today, so I’d say it was money well spent.

The important thing is I took the time to photocopy my screaming face on my last day of work so the moment could live on forever.

Haven’t heard a thing from Greg or Libby since then. All three of us were presented with a Health & Safety Award of Recognition from WOHIS at the 2000 Clifton Grant Award banquet for the work we did, but I was the only member of our ragtag trio who bothered to show up. I found an email address for Libby not long ago and sent her an email for fun. She never responded. No big surprise there.

I also found an online resume in which she claims she “directed all aspects” of Fish out of Water on her own. I seem to remember it a little differently, and when you get to the credits there are some other names in there aside from hers.

You gotta love revisionist history.

Anyway. Check out the dude with short hair and no facial hair smiling at the beginning of the first clip. I haven’t changed a bit since then, have I?

Meet my new friend Martin.

It’s surprisingly lightweight. It’s pretty. It’s one of the most comfortable guitars I’ve ever played (the setup work they do at Folkway is second to none). It doesn’t sound too bad either. Hooray for early birthday presents, I say.

I apologize for the awkward framing and cutting off the top of my own head, but filming myself while sitting in a beanbag chair is uncharted territory for me. The real eye candy is the guitar anyway. I can already tell it’s going to record ridiculously well.

To go into a bit more detail than I did in the video — I bought it back in March as a fixer-upper. I always wanted a Martin guitar, but I didn’t want to spend ten thousand bucks on one. Here was an opportunity to have a 1945 Martin restored for a fair bit less money than you’d expect to spend on a guitar of this vintage. The only caveat was that I would have to wait a while, and what I would be getting in terms of tone and playability was a mystery because there was no way to try it out first. I didn’t have any problem with that.

Who knew it would be finished the day before my birthday? Talk about poetic timing.

Mark did an insane amount of work on this guitar. When I first saw it in March, the neck wasn’t even attached to the body, and the original frets were in bad shape. He set the neck, added a new bridge and bridge pin, made new frets, added a new bone nut and saddle, added new tuners and end pins, re-glued some braces and refurbished/repaired some damage…and damned if that old hunk of wood doesn’t sound pretty special now. The little mic in the Flip camera doesn’t do it justice.

The work he did is seamless. It’s difficult to believe the guitar ever wasn’t assembled in one piece. I almost don’t believe it myself. He even put it in an open tuning before it got to me, knowing standard tuning doesn’t often do much to get me excited with the way I play. I’m used to giving people guitars in odd tunings and getting them back in standard. So you can imagine my surprise there. Some people really do think before they tune! Who knew? Since filming the little video clip, I’ve tuned the guitar down another half-step to D-flat, and it sounds even more ridiculously earthy and good.

Now I find myself playing bluesy things all over again, so I guess some sort of sequel to CHICKEN ANGEL WOMAN will eventually force its way into the world whether I like it or not. Maybe I’ll call it THE DUCK DEMON MAN WITH AN ASHTRAY. The cover art would be epic.

There’s another new musical friend (a complete surprise), but I’ll save that one for another video. I gotta say…getting older doesn’t hurt quite as much when you’ve got new wooden friends to play with.

P.S. The new album is now available at Phog. Tom took a picture of me making a creepy face and holding it up like a confused parent coming down from a questionable pineapple juice high. Some tasty Caribbean cream soda was consumed. Luckily I wasn’t driving.

The opposite of fail.

the key to success?

Today my booklets were released from purgatory and official CD release day was allowed to happen. Praise processed cheese.

There is now a gigantic box of CDs at Dr. Disc — more than twice the stash I normally leave there, so it should last a while. By tomorrow night there should be some copies at Phog as well if anyone wants to grab one while they’re hanging out there. Next week about three hundred of them will go out in the mail. I’m slightly exaggerating, but still. If I have your address and you haven’t horribly wronged me in some way, chances are you’ll find one in the mail in the next week or two.

It’ll be interesting to see how people respond to it. An EP of songs that didn’t make the album and/or weren’t finished in time should follow in the next month or two, complete with ridiculous cover art. And then I might have time to squeeze out at least one more album before the year’s end. Gotta go on making up for lost time. So far I think I’m doing pretty good. I don’t think I’ve had a year this productive since 2004, and the year ain’t over yet.

I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating: it’s nice to be back on track.


angry garfield

Turns out today isn’t official CD release day after all. My booklets are sort of being held hostage at the moment. I guess we’ll have to shoot for tomorrow instead. In the meantime, you can read a bit about the album here if you like. And if I don’t get my booklets by tomorrow afternoon, I’m going to come back here and type nasty things that will make even Paris Hilton blush. You’ve been warned.

Now those are what I call implants…

holly madison doubles her pleasure

This picture makes me cackle. Oh, Holly.

Anyway. CDs are currently being assembled. By me. Because I am the man of our times. Only not. I think I’m up to about seventy-five copies right now. That’s a pretty good start. I caught an unexpected error in the booklets, so those had to be sent to correction purgatory, but they should be back and error-free by tomorrow afternoon. That means tomorrow is “official CD release day”, when little boxes of CDs materialize at Phog and Dr. Disc and about fifty of them go out in the mail to different people in different places. I better start writing some letters to go with them…

It’s kind of neat having a proper booklet to accompany one of my albums for once — not like the novel that came with OUT-TAKES, MISFITS & OTHER THINGS, but a booklet with lyrics and pictures. I don’t know if I’ll end up doing it again for future CDs (printing the lyrics for all to see feels a little odd, for one thing), but it was fun to try this time, just to see what it would be like.

Though most of the new album was recorded before I got that A-Designs Hammer EQ, I can hear a definite difference in the drum tracks recorded before and after I got it. It’s subtly serious. Or seriously subtle. That thing is smooooooth. Needless to say, I’m never using digital EQ on a ribbon microphone again, or much of anything else for that matter.

More exciting news coming soon. Because I’m just an exciting guy. I should rename this blog Johnny’s Big Shiny Exciting Stuff Happen Place. I think that would expand my readership, don’t you?

We’re lit, sir.

I put this up in a secret place just to see what it looked like. Then I thought I’d put it here too. Last night’s show was a lot of fun, and I even got to keep my ears intact for a change. Here’s the pudding-proof. Thanks to Ismal for handling the camera.

FIELD ASSEMBLY, live at Taloola (Saturday, August 8, 2009)

Adam Fox
Voice, guitar, master of ceremonies

Stephen Hargreaves
Snare drum, melodica, brushed melodica, bass, terminally cool hair

Some hairy guy
Wurlitzer, harmonies, a bit of ill-advised melodica at the beginning of one song

Funny how the last song wasn’t rehearsed but we nailed the harmonies anyway. And I was almost trapped into playing something of my own as a post-encore encore. Really. There was an amp blocking my way out of the little performance area so I couldn’t run away. Entrapment!

But seriously. It was a good time.

Would you like to see my pet giraffe?

After having a few days to absorb everything, my ambivalence faded, and I decided my attempt at sequencing the album worked after all. Then came the fun stuff — album art.

Now that I go to the trouble of giving my albums a proper physical presentation, I tend to find myself in one of two positions. Either I end up scrambling at the last minute for cover art with no idea what I’m going to do, or I have an image in mind early on and it sticks.

This time it was a little different. I thought it was about time to give the old “artist appearing on their album cover” thing a try again. Maybe I could erase the bad taste left in my mouth when previous forays into that sticky territory didn’t quite turn out as I planned. Most of the time I like to see something more interesting than the artist’s face on an album cover (unless the artist in question is PJ Harvey, Emmylou Harris, Kate Bush, Chan Marshall, or…well, you get the idea), but sometimes it just makes sense. I also thought it might be fun to try capturing some “in studio” images, since my recorded work hasn’t received a whole lot of visual documentation over the years.

Bree Gaudette came over on Saturday and took one hundred and forty-three pictures of me. That number was shaved down to fifty-nine keeper images. And then I was left with a problem I’ve never had before — having a whole slew of potential cover images to choose from.

I bounced back and forth between different ideas. I liked that there were a lot of shots of my hands doing things without my face in the frame. I liked the pictures of my reflection caught in the piano’s shine, but they seemed like they would work better for an album that was more piano-centric. For a while I was set on a shot of a microphone in sharp focus, juxtaposed against my out-of-focus face.

In the end, the picture I least expected to take home the prize felt like the most appropriate one to put on the cover. I’m there, but my face isn’t clearly seen. It’s obscured by shadows. Sounds about right.

Then I selected a handful of shots for the booklet, to break up some of the words and make it more interesting. It was kind of a shot in the dark, really. I have way too many favourites to fit in one CD booklet. You could make a hardcover coffee table book out of them. But it’s nice to have some super high quality pictures of me in my element, doing a bit of what I do. There haven’t been any of those since 2003. Not all of the chaos that’s in the studio was captured, but that would have been an insane undertaking anyway, with everything there is to see and all the different angles it could have been captured from.

Maybe some of the shots I didn’t use will show up in different places down the road. For now, here are some of my favourites that didn’t end up making it onto the cover or into the booklet. Huge thanks to Bree for taking all these pictures and making me look not as much like the least photogenic person in the world I am most of the time.

This is a Pearlman TM-LE, which is maybe my new favourite microphone. It’s got some of the sweetest “air” I’ve ever heard without getting the least bit harsh. Just yummy extended goodness. Leave it to Dave to make yet another mic that makes an amazing Swiss Army knife.

Here I am in the midst of a little bit of the chaos, wondering how I’m ever going to record everything I need to while I’m still virile and able.

happy micron

Yes, Alesis Micron. You is my friend.

In focus, out of focus, hocus pocus. This is the shot I almost put on the cover.

This guitar — a Washburn D82WE, which is probably one of the only really high end, non-cheapo models Washburn has made in recent years, so of course it’s discontinued now — tried to commit suicide once. We brought it back and convinced it life was worth living. It’s still got the scars to remind it of wilder times. It’s been in a pretty weird-ass tuning for a number of years, and it’s the guitar “Don’t Be Tense”, “Creepy Crawly Things”, “Organ Smears”, and a lot of other songs I still need to record were written and played on.

The Kay Thin Twin. A lot of the electric guitar on the new album is this guy. Funny how two of my favourite guitars these days are Kays. The K-22 I picked up late last year has pretty much become my go-to acoustic guitar and is all over AN ABSENCE OF SWAY and IF I HAD A QUARTER, while the Thin Twin is fast becoming one of my favourite electric guitars. These are two of the only instruments I’ve ever played that will tolerate a particular D tuning I’m fond of without the intonation getting dodgy, so that’s nice too.

They’re kind of sleepers on the vintage guitar market. They don’t command anywhere near the prices of vintage Martins or Gibsons, though I’d put them right up there in terms of tone, playability, and overall coolness factor. Someday people will catch on and a vintage K-22 like the one I got for a song will probably be going for five grand or so.

Or maybe I’m wrong. Time will tell.

There are about half a dozen “piano hands” shots. I like them all. Picking one to put in the booklet came down to which one struck me as having the most appropriate mood to it. But any of them could have made the cut. Those are some pretty long fingers…

And there are many more I like a whole lot. These are just a few of my favourites. Bree takes some snazzy pictures. She also makes you forget the camera is there, which gets rid of all the self-conscious hooey that tends to kill good candid shots. I never enjoyed family picture time at Olan Mills when I was younger. It was fake smiles all around.

Emotionally stunted hypocrites really do pull off that smarmy fake smile thing with aplomb, though, don’t they? Gotta give ’em credit for that.

Now that I know you’re busy drooling over my rugged good looks (or plucking out your eyes to make the hurting stop), I should pause to tell you I’m playing a show at Taloola on Saturday, August 8th, backing Adam up. Music starts at 8:00 pm and ends by 9:00. An early show! In a place with no PA system! No hearing loss! Praise Señor Jesus, and the girl who sold me lemonade last summer.

The Field Assembly lineup for this show will be just Adam, Stephen Hargreaves, and myself. I get to play a Wurlitzer electric piano in a live setting and drink tea that smells pretty. Should be fun.