Thursday, March 20, 2008

Living the dream - "Freebird" LIVE, 1978

When I was in high school, if you were a musician, there was one song you better know how to play if you wanted to be cool. That song, was "Freebird" by Lynrd Skynrd. At Decatur HS in 1978, the song was selected as the Homecoming theme. A good friend, and graduate, Bob Neal, returned to play guitar with us Seniors, and he was joined by Jerry Luckenback, a local "he can really play" legend on another solo guitar. Jerry was a "real" musician. He had played in a bar or two. He was over 21. We were impressed. He smoked and everything.

The rest of the band I can almost entirely remember...Brian (Last name escapes me) on drums, Paul Ralph, my best friend, on Rickenbacker 4001 bass, and Lenny Dahlstrom on guitar and vocals. I was the keyboard player. you can hear me early on on piano and later on electric piano (a real Fender Rhoads 88), actually not tearing it up too badly considering we never had a rehearsal.

It's a joke today to call out requests at shows of any size, and usually someone yells, "Freebird!" But in 1978...I was livin the dream, baby!

If you were at Decatur High School in Federal Way, WA between 1976 and 1981, this one's for you.

Download "Freebird"
(right click this link and "Save Target As..." to your local machine)

Monday, March 17, 2008

More Faces of Throttle Body - Rod Moody

Rod Moody with Jerry, busking it up in Seattle as "Dry Bones"

Rod Moody is a long time friend who joined TBMC in one of the lonelier periods, that of 2000's "Tears in Rain." Rod also lent his home to the creation of "Air Canada", though for some reason, perhaps living in Rhode Island, he didn't play a lick on it! But that's not important - what is is the work he contributed, the inspiration he continues to contribute and the great music he's made over the years in the ka-jillion bands he's played in. Whenever I introduce Rod, it's "now this is a real rock star..." and I sincerely mean it - the man has rocked his whole life, and put his music out there for all to hear, and he lives and loves music. Rod is my idol.

"Restless Cowboys" - December 1977's the Winter of 1977 and I'm 15 years old. I'm at a new High School (Decatur) in Federal Way, WA and with a brand new (literally) school are brand new pianos, and in particular, a brand new Grand piano in the Choir room. A 6'5" Kawai if I remember.

For a kid with delusions of Elton John, a big black piano all to his own is quite a thing. And since I was well ahead of my classes, I could use the room at my leisure. So, pretty much every day you could find me in the choir room, playing that grand piano and writing songs.

This particular Winter day, I wheeled a pair of boom mic stands in, set up a stereo cassette and recorded a song I had been writing, "Restless Cowboys". It's a very Elton-y tune to be sure - I even fake a British accent here and there!

The take you're about to hear suffers for the deterioration of the cassette at the top, but at least the whole performance wasn't destroyed. Really calls out the need to archive these 30-year old recordings. So, for your enjoyment, here's the missing song from "Tumbleweed Connection," (hee :) ) "Restless Cowboys" - enjoy!

Download "Restless Cowboys"
(right click this link and "Save Target As..." to your local machine)

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Stephen Dorocke - from guitar to pedal steel to concertina

Stephen Dorocke, original Throttle Body guitar player in 1996

Stephen Dorocke put his stamp on the TBMC sound in the 90's with a key role in the sound of both "For the Few" and "Marley's Chain". He was introduced to the band by illustrator/bass player Thom Whalen. Stephen was a great guy, always of good humor and a brilliant, original guitar player. A real Chicago bluesman, you always felt like he was exposing a piece of his heart in the flowing, sharp and decievingly complex parts he layed down. Stephen went on to master the pedal steel guitar and play with acts like the Handsome Family. He also made a name for himself in the manufacture of Concertinas for Star Concertina.

Steven Dorocke, at Star Concertina in 1999

Aaron Taylor and the Studio at Graham Street, Seattle

Aaron Taylor laying down guitar during the "Air Canada" sessions, 2003.

The studio set up at Graham Street in Seattle - Pro Tools, SoundTracks CM4400 board, Mackie board, etc.

Aaron Taylor mixing "Down" by Survey Cez at Graham Street

Aaron Taylor is an amazing guitar player. I met him at a "Slobberbone" show in 2001 or 02, I forget, but fromthe start he was memorable, approachable and a blast to hang and play with. Pretty quickly we cut a deal - he joined the club and played on "Air Canada" and I recorded "Survey Cez's" "Down" for him in exchange. Nice deal all around, I'd say!

Graham Street was/is the home of Rod and Tina Moody. They were living in Rhode Island at this time (2003-2005) and allowed me to (depending on finances) house-sit or rent their wonderful home. I set up a studio on the first floor where I recorded "Air Canada", "Down" by Survey Cez. and Native Tounge's first and only release. The focus of the room was Michael Lord's wonderful Soundtracks CM4400 mixing console - a British board with a lot of character that I had recorded almost all of my finished music to date through. Michael had closed down his studio to move to British Columbia and I inherited the board. It saw some use on the "Air Canada" sessions, though not as much as I would have liked.

I owe so much to Rod and Tina for allowing me the time and space to make music in. I think it's the story of a lot of artists that if not for certain wonderful, generous people in their lives, they wouldn't get to do what they do.

Throttle Body Reunion

Osama, Jer and Zoro

This is as close as I've gotten so far to a Throttle Body reunion. Zoro was in town in 2005 for a clinic in Tacoma, where Osama lives (though I rarely see him - he's so busy) and we all met at the clinic then hung out for dinner together. It was a lovely evening. This is 3/5's of the team that created "Marley's Chain" (Steven and Emily being the other two), and we all have a little less hair than we did back in the day...

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Welcome - an introduction to the blog

Hello friends of TBMC. Thanks for checking out the blog. So why a blog? Well, you see, I have a box full of music that is both TBMC and pre-TBMC that I really want to explore over the next few years and get it out for people to hear and enjoy. This includes work I did under the name of "Top Cat", "The Bakks" as well as demos and song-sketches.

What I'm doing is taking these old reel-to reels and cassette tapes dating back to the early 1970's and loading them into Pro Tools, and giving them a once-over to clean them up a little (though I'm not spending thousands on hiss-elimination filters or anything silly). Then the plan is to post them here with a little explanation of what they are, what I remember I was attempting to do at the time...maybe even include lyrics for them if I can find those out in the shed.

The whole idea is to create a digital archive before time wastes away anymore of fragile audio tape that these memories are contained on. It's a highly personal journey I am going to share with whoever cares to come along for the ride. Don't you ever wonder what you've done with your life? Well this is part of what I've done with and continue to do with mine.

There's no promise of productivity here: I'll get the tracks and entries done as I can fit them into other work. It should be interesting to clean the closet, though, and I do hope you find something here to enjoy!