Hello, I've written a sequel to my list of song prompts "Please Write A Song." This one is called "Don't Be Scared" and is not a list of prompts but general tips a songwriter may find useful. Please share with the songwriter in your life and also hug them because songwriters need more hugs than normal people. Download it here.
"The song itself is its introduction to itself." - Robyn Hitchcock
Songs have a few different lives. I like my songs to have at least three. If they’re good, they can have even more. But usually just two or three. Sometimes people want songs to resemble themselves. Both songwriters and song-audiences are guilty of this. “Hey, this live version doesn’t sound anything like the recorded version. That’s not good. I want the song to look like just like I remember it. In my bedroom it looked blue, but now it looks yellow.”
I suppose I can understand that sort of thinking from the standpoint of an audience member. It’s nice to go to a concert and have a song look and sound like what you’re used to. But there’s really no excuse for a songwriter thinking this way. You have to think about the song and how it wants to go and move and live. The creator of the song should want it to go and move and live different lives too. If the song lives the same life for too long, it can die. And no one wants that. Even good songs can die. There are different kinds of deaths a song can die. It can stagnate and start to smell and then nobody wants anything to do with it anymore. It turns into a sandwich you keep taking apart and remaking every day with the exact same ingredients. Eventually, the mayo you keep scraping off and putting back on turns green and it begs for death and you oblige. Even the best ham becomes garbage after a few days.
A song’s first life is when it’s born from your hands with your guitar or piano or whatever instrument. If it’s a good one, it’s pure and sort of solid and just delicious and happy. It can stand up and bark on it’s own and you’re so proud of it. You might even bring it out of the house and show it to your friends before it’s fully formed. What an exciting time for a song. The song loves this time and loves this life and you love it too. But it doesn’t want to stay that way forever. It’s mostly excited because it can see its own future.
The next life comes when the song gets recorded. This is my favorite life for a song because you can give it everything it needs. You can give it things it didn’t even know it wanted. You can repay the song for the wonderful gift it’s given you by existing. You can wrap it up in a beautiful red gown and do its makeup and sit it in an ornate chair. The best part about this life is it lasts forever! Don’t squander this opportunity. You can re-record songs. That’s OK too, but at some point, you should try to get it right. Do things to the song that can never be repeated. That’s what’s so beautiful about this permanent, recorded life. You can create a fantasy world for your song. If your song needs it, you can add an entire orchestra inside of it and on top of it. Now’s your chance. Add a flute or a bongo drum or a Peruvian throat singer. Why would you deny your song the chance to life that life? Because you can’t logistically or financially recreate it in front of a bunch of people? That’s crazy and abusive. You’re forgetting about art. Stop forgetting and get out of art’s way. If you tried to stop a painter from using a certain color, they would flick their brush and shoot paint right in your eye. If someone thinks they know better than you about what your song needs during this part of its life, flick something at them and then when your song is recorded exactly to your liking, climb up on top of a hill and scream about how glad you are to have done it your way.
The third life happens on the road. Or more accurately, in front of an audience. Maybe you play with other people in a band. That’s a great way to make this third life happen. If you play by yourself, it can be tempting to keep your song the way it sounded during its first or second life. Now is the time your song gets to have hobbies and interests of its own. You might find your song likes to be played louder or slower than you expected. Or that it likes to have someone else sing it. Or that it has a whole other new, great section that never even existed in its first or second life! Wow. Again, it might be tempting to try to recreate one of the song’s other lives because of someone’s expectations (yours or the audience’s or your parents’). Don’t do that! The song doesn’t even really belong to you anymore. You made your point during the song’s second (recorded) life. You’ve already climbed the hill and screamed. Now you have to let the song show you what it’s capable of. This life can and should last years and years. Probably even after you're dead. Amazing.
After those three lives, there’s really no limit. The song might be played by someone other than you (there’s another life). You might decide to re-record it and incorporate some of the elements you discovered during its third life. Maybe you want to go back to showing people what it sounded like during its first life (that counts as a whole new life). There are loads of ways a song can have a new life. Some we haven’t even thought of yet.
Songs are better than paintings and poems and sandwiches because songs *are* paintings poems and sandwiches. You can look at, read, destroy, eat, and carry a song. You can bring it around the world with you without anyone knowing you have it. You can land in Jerusalem and when you get off the plane, you can sit down on the tarmac and start singing a song. That’s a whole different life I just thought of.
A song would never ask you to stay the same forever, so don’t ask a song to resemble itself.
It’s only fair.
You can play your song at a fair too. That’s another life.
2016 was a chaotic and confusing year. The first couple of weeks of November were especially chaotic and confusing. That was when Leonard Cohen died and I haven't felt ready to talk about it much nor do any sort of public eulogizing. I still don't really want to. Nevertheless, here's this.
The Full Measure
(for Chris R.)
1999. There was a house down the road from my college dorm where several, slightly older friends of mine lived. It was a place to drink too much beer, watch movies, listen to records, and play guitar. One of the inhabitants was an unemployable, manipulative, wannabe songwriter, who happened to be working his way through quitting heroin for the third or fourth time. He was also a voracious record collector who had thousands and thousands of LPs. His room was in the basement. Everything out of his mouth was a romanticised vision of the mundane details in his life. If he saw a pretty girl working at the bank, he'd spend 99 percent of the day obsessing about her. We got along pretty well. I’d come over in between classes. He’d read me third rate Jim Morrisonesque monologues out of his journals while I picked through his records and played whatever looked interesting. I was writing songs at the time, but my songwriting skill set was truly limited. Coming from a small, isolated farm town with a poor education system, the most underground music I was exposed to was maybe Korn? To put it lightly, I did not have the tools I needed to become a singer-songwriter. A vocation I only vaguely understood.
After class one day, I headed to that house down the road. As I made my way down the stairs into the basement, I heard a brittle, patiently strummed acoustic guitar crackling out of the stereo speakers. A monotone voice croaked. The words were both difficult to discern and clear as crystal.
Well, I found a silver needle,
I put it into my arm.
It did some good,
did some harm.
But the nights were cold
and it almost kept me warm,
how come the night is long?
I felt as if I was going to fall over. Not necessarily from the content of the words, but from the sound of the whole thing. It was painfully quiet and isolated and foreign sounding music, but it was also instantly recognizable in its vulnerability. It seemed childlike and amateurish, but also wise and sophisticated. I asked, “What is this?”
“It’s Leonard Cohen. Songs From a Room.”
I’d heard the name before.
“You mean, the guy who wrote that one song on the Jeff Buckley album? He makes music that sounds like this?”
“Yeah, he’s great.”
I picked up the album sleeve and looked at the cover. It looked like it was made with a Xerox machine. Black and white and overexposed and washed out. The font scared me. It looked like a warning. The deadly serious and cold face looking back at me was shocking.
Everything in my life instantly changed. The way I thought about songwriting. The way I understood music was “supposed” to sound. The sort of things you could say in a song. The way you could sing them. Everything.
The song ended with this:
Blood upon my body
and ice upon my soul,
lead on, my son, it’s your world.
And just like that, I became a songwriter.
I introduced this music to my best friend Chris and we both became obsessed. We bought every LP, every poetry book, both novels. We bought bootleg VHS tapes on ebay filled various TV interviews and live performances. We read the unauthorized and authorized biographies. We learned about Leonard’s family and children and childhood friends and ex-lovers. And we always laughed and laughed. Yes, the music and poetry is “dark” but it’s also hilarious. Sometimes painfully dry in its absurd humor. In the case of the poetry and novels, the surrealism, violence, and sex interspersed with the irrepressible romance was too much to take. Sometimes just the mention of a song or poem title would send us into a giggling fit.
Death of a Ladies’ Man
Flowers For Hitler
I Have Not Lingered In European Monasteries
Came So Far For Beauty
A Singer Must Die
Whenever we’d get together, one of us would inevitably show up with a piece of Leonard Cohen ephemera.
“Check it out. This is a laminated magazine advertisement for “Songs Of Love and Hate.” I’m going to hang it by my toilet.”
“Woah. Perfect place for it.”
I have six different editions of the novel The Favourite Game. Chris has the cover of the album New Skin For the Old Ceremony tattooed on his leg. In the masterpiece, stream of consciousness prose poem End Of My Life in Art, Leonard mentions a cocktail he created while in Needles, California: The Red Needle.
“Tequila and cranberry juice, lemon and ice. The full measure.”
Chris and I exclusively drank this cocktail from 2001-2004. At this point, to call Leonard Cohen a cult figure would be accurate, as we had essentially started a cult.
At some point, during those years, we took a trip to Montreal with friends under the guise of a vacation. While the rest of our group spent time in bars and strip clips, Chris and I walked the old part of the city looking for any landmark mentioned in a Leonard Cohen poem or novel. We found his childhood home in Westmount. We chatted with his neighbor. “Ah, yes. Young men come snooping around this neighborhood quite often," he said.
I’d prefer not to spend time rehashing Leonard Cohen’s entire life and career and commenting/critiquing/praising each phase, but I’ve heard and read it all. A massive portion of it is (clearly) indispensable to me. And much of it suffers from frustrating shortcomings (particularly production and collaborative choices in the music he made post-2000).
I will say the significance of Leonard Cohen’s poetry and two novels are as important to me as the music and if you haven’t, I urge you to read every word he’s written. This material ranges from somewhat traditional verse (The Spice-box of Earth) to religious text (Book of Mercy) to avant garde erotica (Beautiful Losers). His writing is dazzling, and I assure you, quite funny. You will laugh and laugh.
I wish more people talked about his singular, faux-flamenco style guitar playing that, according to one of my guitar teachers, is “impossible unless you have more than 5 fingers on your right hand.”
I wish someone would publish an art book of all his drawings and paintings.
I wish I knew everything about his time spent as a Zen monk on Mt. Baldy where he was given the name Jikhan, meaning "silence.”
I wish there was a religion based on Book of Mercy.
I wish some of his ex-band members would write a book and talk about what he was like as a bandleader and a friend.
I wish a camera was rolling when he recorded “Don't Go Home with Your Hard-On” with Phil Spector producing, and Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan singing background vocals.
I wish I knew what it was like to stumble upon Beautiful Losers in a Canadian bookstore in 1966.
“I wish there was a treaty / Between your love and mine.” - “Treaty” (2016)
A funny thing happened in the last 15 years or so. The entire world started to really love Leonard Cohen. The song Hallelujah became an international anthem of beauty and redemption. He went back out on tour and started making albums again. He was always beloved and respected, but now it seemed like the word was truly out: Leonard Cohen is one of the best, if not the best singer-songwriter of all time.
There’s an absurd, knee-jerk reaction some people have when an artist they love becomes a household name. Well, I am guilty of this when it comes to Leonard Cohen. I’ve been known to feel somewhat uncomfortable when I think about large crowds of people loudly singing along to these words that are so private and personal to me. But now that he’s gone, the words are all that’s left. He was so generous to share the work that made me this person I am today, it would be selfish and foolish to want to keep him to myself. I wonder how he helped shape you and your life. I hope he made you laugh.
Make yourself a Red Needle tonight. Don’t forget the recipe:
Tequila and cranberry juice, lemon and ice. The full measure.
The new Mercy Choir album is called “Like a Fountain Stirred” and will be released 01/06/17.
Pre-order the album and listen to the song “Friendly Fire” here: http://bit.ly/2gN8UPr
We're moving our January 27 Mercy Choir & Friends show with Landing and Shula Weinstein to Lyric Hall in New Haven. We plan on playing the album in its entirety. And then we’ll do it again on February 4 at the Oasis Pub in New London, CT. I’m really relieved and excited to share this album with you.
I’ve been working on this for about three years, I think. In fact, *other* Mercy Choir albums have come out during the writing and recording of this one, which makes as much sense to me as it does you. I’ve never worked so long and diligently on an album before and though exhausting, I’ve found the process exciting and gratifying. It’s the most collaborative album I’ve ever made.The cover art is a painting/drawing by an old friend Meg Cowen. The music includes contributions from each member of the current Mercy Choir lineup Loralee Geil, Bruce Crowder, Timothee Goselin Jr, Brian Slattery, and Chris Zollo. Loralee sings lead on two of the songs. It was recorded at the Mercy Choir practice space in New Haven, in my home, in my car, in my shed, and anywhere else I could find some quiet/alone time. I think it sounds like a good representation of the different types of music I’ve made under the Mercy Choir name, but it also sounds nothing like anything else I’ve ever done.
That’s one contradiction. Here are some others: One of the main aspects of the sound I’ve been chasing for this album was a lack of drums. However, there are drums and/or percussion on every song. Hmm. The album is called “Like a Fountain Stirred” but I’ve always referred to it as “Gloria.” So maybe that’s what the album is really called? There’s some kind of narrative thread throughout, but I haven’t been able to make much sense of it. It seems like the story takes place in two different places at once: Santa Fe, NM and Monterey, CA. But I’ve never visited either. None of the songs are autobiographical, but it’s by far the most personal music I’ve ever written.
A few of the songs were recorded, scrapped, then re-recorded several times. A handful of songs were written, recorded, then left off the album. Maybe for another time. Seven songs might not seem like a lot, but it’s the longest album I’ve ever made. Three of the songs are over 7 minutes long.
“Friendly Fire” is the oldest of the bunch, written a few years ago at my kitchen table along with 4 others that have either been released some other way, or will some other time. It sets the tone for the album lyrically and musically and it's one of my favorite songs I've ever written.
“Universal Wannabe” used to be a big rock and roll song, but now It’s more of a bass solo with words. The lyrics remind of a newspaper comic strip. Or a slapstick comedy short film. “Caught In a Dream” and “Once in a While” seem like siblings to me. One is loungey, torch ballad jazz, the other is New Orleans vocal jazz. I think.
Both of the Fountain songs (“Fountain, Get Inside the” and “Fountains, Blue”) are lyrically related but nothing alike. One was recorded mostly improvisationally, the other was meticulously put together like puzzle over the course of about a year. I hope you’d consider listening to this album through headphones, as that’s the way it was recorded and mixed.
However personal, when I listen to this album, the other musicians are the stars. Loralee, Bruce, Tim, Brian, and Chris use broad brushes and paint beautiful, bright yellow, electric stripes over the dark blue of these songs. I recorded a lot of this album myself, but their contributions are crucial. When we play live, they can make quiet parts seem like unnerving chaos, and loud parts seem intimate and controlled. I can’t do that alone.
I’ve found it hard to make and consume art in this new horrific era the country is entering. Escaping into surreal, introspective, and absurd art sometimes feels like a cop-out to me. It’s not. I hope it’s not. I hope you can hear the care that went into making this. I hope it brings you peace in some way.
Pre-order here Digital/CD/Cassette here: http://bit.ly/2gN8UPr
Hi All. Mercy Choir is taking up residence at Never Ending Books in New Haven on the last Friday of the month for the foreseeable future. On the last day of the Wobbling Roof variety shows at Never Ending Books I remember thinking to myself, “I should just do this forever.” So that’s what we’re doing. We’ll call it Mercy Choir and Friends. We’ll play in our various incarnations and have wildly different supporting acts of every conceivable genre. We’ll have musical guests, non-musical guests, experimenters, traditionalists, new friends, and old friends. We’ll play our old stuff and our new stuff and other people’s stuff and stuff that maybe would normally only happen in our rehearsal space. And we’ll do it for and with all the people we love.
In the past year or so, I blinked and Mercy Choir went from a solo act to a six person supergroup of some of the most talented and musically versatile bandmates I’ve ever played with. Just like I always intended, Mercy Choir sounds, looks, and behaves differently at every show. In case you didn’t know, the current lineup is Timothee Goselin Jr, Loralee Geil, Bruce Crowder, Brian Slattery, Chris Zollo, and me. I love these people. That’s a fact.
Enough about us. More importantly, music in CT is better than ever. Every day I hear or see or meet another new band that blows me away. And for some reason, the old-timers (like me) sounds better than ever. We want to share a bill so many of these great artists. And so we will.
Just a taste of what’s ahead: For the first show (7/29) in this Never Ending series, we share the night with Quiet Giant and Swamp Yankee.
The second show (8/26) Lys Guillorn and Sam Carlson join us. And every month we’ll keep it rolling with more and more good music and entertainment and wildness and weirdness.
Incidentally, without Lys Guillorn’s help, advice, and input, and vision with the Wobbling Roof series, I wouldn’t have the guts to try something like this. I suspect you will see her quite a lot at these shows. Hopefully with an instrument in her hands.
Also, I want to give a hat tip to my hero James Velvet. His decade-long residency at Cafe 9 with his band The Mocking Birds was an institution and was 100% in the spirit of love for New Haven and for live music. That’s what we’re aiming for here. So as always, we say, thanks for the inspiration, James.
So, long story short, if you want to see Mercy Choir play (pro tip: you do), you now know where to find us. We’ll be at Never Ending Books on State Street in New Haven on the last Friday of every month, hopefully forever.
Hi, please enjoy these two Mercy Choir songs available for stream/purchase: https://mercychoir.bandcamp.com/album/peggy-sue-scarecrow
These are from the "Sings In the Traditional Rock and Roll Style" sessions from last year, but were left off because they were not in the traditional rock and roll style. Both written when I was twenty something and had nothing to lose (or gain). They feature the dazzling production style of Timothee Goselin Jr.
PAUL BELBUSTI - VOCALS/GUITAR/PERCUSSION/ETC
TIM GOSELIN - BASS/GUITAR/LAP STEEL/ETC
CHRIS ZOLLO - KEYS/ETC
SACHIN RAMABHADRAN - DRUMS/ETC
PRODUCTION BY TIM GOSELIN/MERCY CHOIR
RECORDED/ENGINEERED/MIXED BY SACHIN RAMABHADRAN
MASTERED BY DAN ABATEMARCO
Songwriters Paul Belbusti of Mercy Choir and Lys Guillorn are co-presenting a variety show series in March at Never Ending Books. Lys Guillorn and The Mercy Choir Present Wobbling Roof Revue takes place every Friday in March.
Each Friday in March, multiple bands and performers will present short sets in the intimate performance space at Never Ending Books. The nights will showcase some of the projects in which Belbusti and Guillorn are involved as well as other talent from around Connecticut, many from the New Haven area. A listing of the performers is below.
In 2013, Guillorn and Belbusti collaborated on a three-song EP titled “Trouble.” http://mercychoir.bandcamp.com/album/trouble
The performers are generously donating their time, and the entirety of the suggested door charge will go to the Connecticut Food Bank. The Connecticut Food Bank is the state’s
nonprofit leader in the fight against hunger and the largest provider of charitably donated food. The Connecticut Food Bank partnered with the food industry, food growers, donors and volunteers to provide enough food last year to prepare more than 18 million meals. The Connecticut Food Bank distributes that food through a network of community based programs to more than 300,000 people across six Connecticut counties. For more information, visit www.ctfoodbank.org, or follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @CTFoodBank.
Never Ending Books is located at 810 State St., New Haven. Admission is a $5 suggested donation at the door, and all ages are welcome.
Paul Belbusti solo http://paulbelbusti.com/
Chris Cavaliere solo http://christophercavaliere.com/
Dangbats / Witch Hair split https://www.facebook.com/WitchHairBand/ https://www.facebook.com/dangbats
Saul Fussiner - Storyteller
Laundry Day https://laundryday.bandcamp.com/releases
Rebecca Scotka - Storyteller
Chris Arnott - Writer, storyteller
Goodnight Blue Moon http://goodnightbluemoon.com/
Lys Guillorn solo http://lysguillorn.bandcamp.com/
La Tunda http://latunda.bandcamp.com/
Oberon Rose http://www.oberonrose.com/
Karen Picone Ponzio - Poet
Brian Robinson from the Tet Offensive https://www.facebook.com/tetoffensive/
George Hakkila https://www.facebook.com/George-Effin-Magic-Hakkila-225731710784182/
Jump Italiano https://www.facebook.com/jumpitaliano/
Adam Matlock http://anhistoricmusic.blogspot.com/
Mercy Choir https://mercychoir.bandcamp.com/
Julia Petitfrere - Writer
Dan Rice - Comedian
Telegram Scam https://www.facebook.com/tlgrmscm/?fref=ts
Anthony Apuzzo - Trivia
Chris Cretella/Zach Rowden duo http://chriscretella.com/
Ken Cormier http://www.kencormier.com/
Lys Guillorn & Her Band http://www.lysguillorn.com/
Violet Harlow - Tarot alchemy
Xavier Serrano https://www.facebook.com/kindredq
Hello. The album is out now.
Listen to an extensive interview: https://soundcloud.com/new-haven-independent/northern-remedy-102015-mercy-choir
Lonesome Noise is premiering/previewing the song "Birdwatcher" from the new album Mercy Choir Sings In The Traditional Rock and Roll Style.
There will be an album release show on that date at Three Sheets in New Haven, CT.
Purchase tickets here: http://www.cafenine.com/event/904997-oneida-new-haven/
Song prompts have always been useful for me when I am stuck (which happens often). I hope these prompts are useful for you. These prompts are likely most useful for songwriters who write the traditional, 20th century, Western, popular concept of a song: with lyrics and sections like verses and choruses. However, with a little creativity, hopefully these prompts will also be of use for those who do not make music in that style. Please forgive any spelling or grammatical errors.
It’s important to note these prompts are merely suggestions. They can and should be molded and ignored to your liking, especially as the song develops. Keep in mind, some of these prompts may seem ridiculous, absurd, or even impossible. The idea is to write a song. Once it’s done, you are free to shape it into something useful. It’s easy to improve a song that already exists.
You can download the document here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7DDJkcw5cyfbG1kUTdtYnFWZnc/view?pli=1
Please share it with every songwriter you know.
Just added: On June 15, we'll be supporting the wonderful Pattern Is Movement at Cafe Nine in New Haven as part of their farewell tour. This is particularly thrilling as their music is important to me. I'm not quite sure how I was first introduced to them, but I listened to their album "All Together" non-stop from 2008-2010 and it kept me company on many unpleasant bus commutes through the Bronx.
No Nutmeg has his the big(er) time. It has happily morphed into a monthly(ish) column on Lonesome Noise focusing on the experimental, daring, unclassifiable music coming out of the great state of Connecticut (and sometimes surrounding). This is exciting and also a relief. Keeping up with the site as a standalone blog was getting to be a bit much. Believe it or not, I'm a little busy.
I'm always shocked at how much quality music is happening in the dark corners of my home state. I'll do my best to write about it.
My My friend/collaborator/and potential official biographer is slowly interviewing me on her blog, one question at a time. Her first question is "What's the deal with your watch collection?" I enjoyed answering it. As a guy who feels completely misunderstood by almost everyone, almost always, explaining myself is a pleasure.
Still warming up for this show, prepping the full band, rock and roll record, waiting for the split single with Kevin MF King to be released. Otherwise, no news is good news.
Finally, my old pal Jason Bourgeois has released a solo record. Jason is a gentleman, an international man of mystery, a human conundrum, and most importantly a master of pop music. I am an enthusiastic participant of his cult following and have been keeping tabs on all of his projects (Bourgeois Heroes, The Novels, Beach Honey, The Frills, among others). I strongly urge you to bite and chew and swallow this album, which is an essential nugget of breezy song-centered pop.
Above are some things I made on the back of hanging file folders with whiteout, ink, and crayon. See more art here. Buy some here. If you see something on the art blog you'd like to purchase that isn't yet in the store, email me: email@example.com
Daffodil Fest was a blast. Full band record is off to the mastering plant and we're looking at a late summer/early fall release. Cover art is done maybe(?) Record labels? How/why? Chris Zollo and I are working on new songs/arrangements for some duo performances. Keep eyes on the calendar. Come say hi.
Rearranged Advertisement For Musical Equipment
You You you literally fair your own details. Today is an answer to a street of questions defining the way you work and stand. You You you literally find what’s cool as a resource. Stand and let us offer you a trade. Review your own work in exchange for being in your own band. Sell yourself accessories like drums and cases of things you’ve always wanted. Like in, like out today. Accessorize. New you will go check for check for the Ultimate Value of your Work. Here’s Resource! You You your items are each valued by market research. You You your music is simple! We’ll click you with retail! The like in/like out products are in stock. Look around. Your time to buy, if you decide to buy, Go USED. This gear has been reviewed by the market. You You your equipment and and retail is here for you to buy (while stores and supplies last)! We check equipment free and fair in store. We will never deny you a floor model. We accept all checks the right way. Regardless of your condition. What we’re selling here is a pretty good buy and You You you are making great cool music with your band, donning our accessories and equipment, products. Whether the gear is based on your needs or not, our gear is great for all that too.
Now that this long, despicable winter has finally ended, we are faced with the typical faux-Spring weather New England bestows upon us every year. Soon enough, the chill will leave the air and Spring will actually begin. I'm ready.
I've been busy with lots of this and that. Thanks for keeping in touch and following me in my weird travels.
Next week, the full band Mercy Choir will perform at the 2015 Meriden Daffodil Festival, the yearly food/music event in Connecticut. The fest is all weekend, but our set is on Saturday, April 25th at 12:30pm. Again, this is the full band lineup that's been playing for the past year and a half or so: Timothee Goselin Jr on bass, Sachin Ramabhadran on drums, Chris Zollo on piano, and me on guitar/vocals.
Speaking of that lineup, we've recorded an album of new arrangements of some Mercy Choir songs. We think it sounds pretty good and we look forward to sharing it with you. It needs some final touches, but you'll likely hear it by the end of the year.
We were pretty thrilled to be featured on Impose a few weeks ago. They had nice things to say and allowed us to write a couple of paragraphs about the making of the album:
The next Rivener performance is Sunday June 7th at Pacific Standard Tavern in New Haven, CT. We're playing with a great bunch of outcasts, weirdos, and eclectic somethings. We're looking forward to it and have lots more shows in the works. Thanks for all the support. Our album "Fires in Repose" is available on bandcamp, itunes, spotify, etc.
I've decided to reboot Wobbling Roof for one issue as a small print zine. I'm quite proud of how it came out. Look for a copy on a newsstand or counter top near you. You may also purchase a copy or download a PDF of the issue and print/cut/fold it using the instructions found at http://wobblingroof.com
The issue includes contributions from David B. Applegate, Karrie Bulger, Meg Raab Cowen, TheMountain Movers, Parlay Droner, and Duncan Simmons.
Two of my strange poems are included in the inaugural issue of Pith, which is a wonderful new literary webzine. Please check it out and enjoy the entire issue, which is chock full of good writing. http://www.pithjournal.com/
I've put up a few new paintings, drawings, and mixed media pieces for sale in the store. Please consider buying one of these modestly priced items. They are suitable for framing in your man/woman/dog caves.
see you soon...
My chapbook “Lucy” has been published by Good Cop / Bad Cop Press and is now available to purchase here:
I would love if you bought a copy and/or shared this post. Thank you for the support.
I don't have anything else to say about this exciting thing that has happened (this book being published), but please know I am happy and relieved.
Rivener’s first release “Fires In Repose” (Twin Lakes Records) is now available for preorder! Limited edition cassettes/CDRs/digital. Get yours today. The official release date is the day of our really big show: MV&EE//The Mountain Movers//Rivener//Spectre Folk (feat. members of Magik Markers, Sonic Youth & Pavement) - Sat. February 28th at Cafe Nine
Also, my friend Lys Guillorn and I will perform as a duo on April 10 at Three Sheets in New Haven as part of the Elm City Folk Festival. We’ll play songs from our EP “Trouble” along with some other goodies.
Hello. The new Mercy Choir release "Two Machines In The Garden" is out today and available for digital download. Here's a little something I wrote about making it:
"The simplest ideas often take the longest to come to fruition. Is that true for you too? In this case, the simple idea was getting several musicians of varying musical backgrounds together in a room to perform a long drone piece, consisting solely of a C Major chord (Machine 2). The logistics of putting together something like that, particularly for someone like me who does most of his recording by myself in a small room, can be get tricky.
After much planning and organization, I got some people in a room. Some knew each other, some were friends, some were strangers, for all I know, some were enemies. Some were experienced improvisors, some were not. Luckily, all were enthusiastic about the piece. We set up some microphones and played our C Major chord.
Why a long C Major chord? There isn't a why. If there was, the answer would not be terribly interesting.
Machine 1 is a solo piece for three acoustic guitars.
Machine 2 is a collaboration. The most people to ever appear on a Mercy Choir record! I dedicate it to our friend Lys Guillorn, who was scheduled to participate, but was under the weather at the time. Thanks to her for the inspiration and thanks to all the musicians who played the chord.
I am still growing this garden."
I hope you'll download this album and enjoy it. Other new of interest: My chapbook "Lucy" is for real and it will be available to purchase on February 27th, 2015 via Good Cop / Bad Cop Press. Here is a picture of my hand holding a copy:
The evening the book is released, there will be an event in New Haven, Ct. I hope you'll come celebrate with me.
Here's the cover art for the next Mercy Choir release, out 2/3/15. It has is two tracks, one of which is 24 minutes long and features Adam Matlock of An Historic, EC Branford of Ebin-Rose Trio W/ Bobo On Bass, Al Chavez of many, many area metal projects, and the current Mercy Choir live lineup: Timothee Goselin Jr, Chris Zollo, of West Rockers, and Sachin Ramabhadran (who engineered the session). I'm looking forward to sharing it with you.
Hello 2015. I've been holding off on this exciting announcement:
A book I've been working on for the last five years will be published late February 2015 by the wonderful press Good Cop / Bad Cop out of New London, CT. It's called "Lucy." It's a short book, about 30 pages of poetry and short prose. The book is about a girl named Lucy and her Uncle Horace. It's amazing how much slower this sort of writing comes to me compared to songwriting, but it seems to come from a different part of my brain. I've worked on this book more meticulously than any project I've ever worked on, I think. Maybe it's a little embarrassing that a 30 page book took five years to write, but maybe "humbling" is a more appropriate word. In any case, a final release date will be announced soon and there will be some readings and events in various parts of Connecticut. The first of which, is on January 31st at The Telegraph record store in New London, CT. I'll be reading a few pieces from the book and playing a few songs as part of a Good Cop / Bad Cop showcase. More details on that will come soon.
In other news, I've posted a few paintings and drawings on the Mercy Choir/Dead Language Records bandcamp page. Please consider buying a piece or two.