college-ruled

 

 

now playing: blake allen, “on a stone”

 

 

it always strikes a chord in my head somewhere when i read or hear that i share one of my personal quirks or idiosynchrasies with someone else. not sure why, if not for what must be the obvious reasons…but with that in mind, i had to smile when i tripped over this on richard shindell‘s site:

 

I’m interested in the process you employ as you shape your songs. Have you found a particular method that works well for you, enabling you to most effectively chisel and sand your ideas into the finished piece?

rs: Deadlines! Well, deadlines get me started anyway. Once I’m on the trail of something, I think about nothing else 24/7 until it’s done. I use a shameful amount of paper in the process (8×11 yellow legal pads, nice and smooth, college ruled). (emphasis mine)

 

i can sit here and peck away all day long without slowing down, but if i’m writing a song, it has to be in pencil, and it has to be on a yellow, college-ruled legal pad. i don’t have many demands in life, really…i know how to settle in many, many areas of my life, but this is not negotiable.

and yes, it has been pointed out how much of a freak i am about this.

but as of today, i’m not the only one.

it’s me, richard, and marty higgins.

freaks, every one of us.

but at least a couple of those guys are kickass songwriters.

why fast food is like casual sex

 

 

first of all, it’s a lot more enticing when you’re younger.

then, as you get older, every time you have it, it’s less and less what you remember it being like when you were younger. and whatever motivation you might have to seek it out at all is colored by some memory you have of it being better than it actually is. and, if you’re hungry/horny, it’s all good while you’re in the middle of it…but once you’re done and you clean up the mess, you’re already starting to feel bad about having done it in the first place…and half an hour later, you’ve got a rock in your gut, and you wonder what the hell made you think this was a good idea.

and the more of it you indulge in, the greater risk to your health.

(these are the things you think about when you’re driving home at 1am and every fucking radio station within a gajillion mile radius sucks so bad that you can’t stand to listen to another minute of any of them)

i’m gonna go to sleep now.

losin’ stuff…

 

 

now playing: bruce hornsby, “jack straw” (from deadicated)

 

first of all, that’s a great version of that song…with a kickass guitar solo from one of my heroes, george marinelli, from his days with bruce’s band, the range. george also did all the guitar work on charlie degenhart’s album, bridge street main, so i got the opportunity in charlie’s band to recreate his parts live. quite a kick.

rachel had a fatal crash on her computer and lost some pretty important data over the weekend…including a bunch of her notes for a book she’s working on and her notes for some of her freelance work.

kinda plants a rock in your gut, just thinking about it.

a couple of years ago, when i was installing removable hard drive bays in a couple of my machines at home, i had put the disk drive that had my entire MP3 collection (which, as it stood at that time, was around 4000 files) into one of the removable drive bays in my computer upstairs in the studio, and it proceeded to rename every single file on the drive to something like this:

*&(^&*!TKJB#&*^&,OIBN@(*&$

every one of them. 4000 files named “gibberish”.

what did i do, you might ask?

well, after the paramedics left and my therapist managed to coax me out of the fetal position and i stopped sucking my thumb and gently singing to myself, i had to go through each and every file – all 4000 of them – right click on them and select “open with” and point them towards winamp to get them to open, since the file extension had been wiped out. since they were MP3 files, winamp recognized them as such and would play them back…so i had to listen to them and then close winamp (because you can rename the file if it’s in use) and then rename the file to what it was to begin with…provided i knew what it was (which wasn’t the case for a handful of them, believe it or not).

so, take that process and multiply it by 4000+, and you’ve got roughly two weeks of time spent recovering from a data disaster that, in all honesty, could have been much,much worse.

there was an ad that i saw a long time ago that left an impression on me – the headline said “there are two kinds of people that you meet in this world – those who have lost data, and those who will.”

scary stuff, if you think about it….get out those CDR’s and start backin’ up your stuff, if you don’t do so regularly. if you have a ton of stuff, there are companies that make small (and somewhat affordable) backup servers with hundreds of GB’s of storage space on them that you can either attach directly to your PC or to a home network…i’m thinking about getting one of those myself…once i lose something else and spend a few more hours in the fetal position….

moment number 7,832

 

 

now playing: sarah mclachlan, “fallen”

 

today i rolled out of bed, early for me on a saturday, but rested nonetheless.

i showered without feeling rushed, pulled on some comfortable clothes and walked out of my house right into a beautiful day…the temperature was perfect, the sun was out, and the rest of the world felt like a serene place.

i got into my van, started driving towards my kids’ mom’s house – people were washing their cars, kids were playing…a beautiful little nichole kidman lookalike smiled at me while she was playing jumprope with her friends a few blocks from my house in this new neighborhood where i live…where i still can’t believe that i live.

i picked up my son and brought him along for the ride with me – i had to drive to phoenixville to pick up a computer from one of my “golden girls”…and i decided that we were taking backroads to get there, since we were still in no particular hurry.

he sat there in the shotgun seat, this miniature likeness of myself, looking out the window and taking in the sights…we listened to the radio, he sang along with “rock and roll hootchie koo”, half singing and half laughing. we passed a man with a huge tree trunk lying on its side behind him, carving frog scupltures with a chainsaw that were three or four feet high…

…we drove along in general silence, taking in the calm of the day. i passed houses with ‘bush 04’ signs on the lawn, and just couldn’t muster the necessary irritation to be angry at these people that i didn’t even know for their misguided faith.

as we were driving home from out appointed round, we took 113 to 401 and drove through the relative quiet and took in the breeze – we passed a vintage passenger bus converted into an RV and painted bright red and yellow and we looked at each other and laughed…

at some point, as we snaked up this two lane road, bob dylan’s “just like a woman” came on the radio, and i looked over at dylan, who looked back at me with a slight grin on his face…i said, “you know who this is, dude?”

he smiled bigger and said, “dad…nobody else sings like that.”

i turned my eyes back toward the road and smiled…content that perhaps i’m not doing as poor a job at passing on the important things as i sometimes like to believe. i watch him as he moves his hands in rhythm to the song, tapping on the door of the van where his elbow rests as he looks out the window.

he’s getting it.

and i think that from tomorrow on, “just like a woman” belongs to today, to this afternoon, riding in the VW van down a narrow backroad, taking in a day that comes but a few times in the space of a year.

gift

 

 

now playing: crosby, stills, nash and young, “tell me why”

 

the best gifts have nothing to do with christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, none of that.

the best gifts are the ones you get that have no occasion or expectations attached to them.

todd came over this morning with a handful of CD’s, one of which was a pristine soundboard recording of a 1970 CSNY show at the Fillmore. it sounds amazing, and while it’s obviously from the same tour as the famous lakehurst, nj show (the “one thing the blues ain’t is funny” show), it sounds better than any of the other boots i’ve heard from that 1970 tour.

now that i’m at work by myself, i’ve been listening to tell me why very loudly, over and over again, for a few spins now.

i know i already owe my blog a lengthy, explanatory poco post, but i think at some point i have to do my lengthy CSNY post, too…they’ve just been written into so many of the rings of my tree – what an amazing band they were.

WERE.

dashed hopes and missed opportunities always make great fodder for writing, huh?

late night humor

 

 

now playing: me, “is that enough” (from the live at longview sessions)

 

now, now…let’s not be judgemental…right now, that’s my job…

all i really wanted to say is that jayda is definitely ready for bed when she uses the word overneath in a sentence.

i’ve mentioned lately, i’m sure, that my kids rock…i guess i’ll just have to deal with whatever allegations of broken-record syndrome that might come my way.

there will be new MP3’s on the site available for download by the end of the day tomorrow…promise.

i’m workin’ on it.

lost

 

 

now playing: jackson browne, “call it a loan”

 

in lieu of a lunch break today, i was asked to drive out to kutztown and pick up a laptop for use in the circuit board fabrication shop on a project they’ve taken on. i wasn’t unhappy about it, as my boss had already called to let me know that he was taking the rest of the afternoon off, and he’s really the only person to whom my unavailability would cause me any undue stress. so off i went.

i left at 2pm and got back about five minutes ago. traffic in kutztown was incredibly thick, for some reason, and it took me twenty minutes just to get from the LANtek building back to the highway. since things were so bogged down, i stopped into the kutztown democratic headquarters and picked up some extra stickers and lawn signs…while i was there i saw the most recent column by my soon-to-be adversary, clipped and lying on the desk. i had to smile a little, knowing that soon he’d have a foil across the page from him.

so i put my signs into the back of my trusty VW van and eased back out onto main street, remembering that jayda would be making this trip tomorrow herself, as she begins upward bound – weekend edition in earnest tomorrow.

i was waiting for the traffic at the light to start moving again, and this gorgeous geeky-hippie girl was walking up the sidewalk opposite me, wearing a purple bandana, baggy pants and thick-rimmed glasses…she had long brown hair and had obviously spent some time outdoors this summer – she was glowing.

i stuck my head out the already-rolled-down window of the van and said, “if you can get past the weirdness of my saying so, i think you look beautiful today.”

she smiled at me and said, “i like your van”.

i chuckled and said, “thanks, so do i on the days it starts.”

and then the traffic started moving, and so did i.

whenever i have to come back to work from that direction, there’s a specific road that i take to get back here. now i don’t know why – this doesn’t happen as often as it did when i used to drive four hours home from gigs in god-knows-where, but there are times when i’ll be driving and i’ll be so far gone to some other place in my head that it’s almost as if i’ve blacked out. i’m aware of my surroundings, and the fact that i’m operating a motor vehicle, but i settle into a daydream and i’ll just drive…without much thought as to where. this used to happen a lot – i’d wake up in the morning after coming home from a gig and would know beyond a shadow of a doubt that i came home a specific way, but would have no recollection of having passed certain landmarks on the way.

so, today, i’m driving along, windows down, and i come to a “T” in the road, and it strikes me that there are no “T” intersections in the road back to work…so i made a left and decided to make the best of it.

not far down the road, i ran right into the Adams Hotel – immortalized in the frog holler song, adams hotel road.

there at the mouth of the hotel Road
the adamses lived and the adamses sold
out to a deal, left out in the cold
the ghosts of the bar and the stories it told

i knew it was an actual place, but i’d never seen it before. yet, by God, there it was.

i kept driving around until i saw the lake that i knew to be just off route 61, and i kept it to my left as i drove back towards leesport – past the cemetary with fresh american flags on the tombstones, and the trailers with satellite dishes haphazardly tethered to the shoddy excuses for porches, until the road i was on eventually spit me out practically into the parking lot of the village tavern ( a stone road mainstay), right up the road from where i work.

i was actually hoping to have been a little more lost than it turned out i was…

…but it’s not as though i’m finished driving for the day.

bonus fact that may interest only me (with apologies to peter king):

dylan and i wore the exact same clothes today…khakis and a black polo shirt…but neither of us knew it until we walked out to the van to go to school this morning.

one rehearsal left

 

 

now playing: super seventies internet radio

 

one more nik everett rehearsal before the big “coming out” party.

it’s commonplace in the music industry for an artist to have a “cd release party” on the release date of the record. i don’t know where this whole thing got started, any more than anyone could tell you where this tradition of the “dollar dance” originated at wedding receptions. strange stuff. BUT – once again, i digress.

anyway, the band plays the record – live – for the folks who come to the party, who typically pay a single cover price for admission to the show and a copy of the brand spankin’ new record.

and thus it shall be with nik, on friday, october 1st at the point in bryn mawr, pa at 7pm.

i must say, the band is coming together nicely – we have mostly old pros in this incarnation, with the exception of anton, the bass player…a band of this caliber is a first for him, but i gotta give him credit – he’s busting his balls to be ready for this gig. besides myself, he’s the only other vocalist amongst the sidemen, and he’s having some confidence issues, but he’s coming along.

tonight was the first night of rehearsals for our keyboard guy, leigh goldstein…although he’d been playing with nik one-on-one for a while, and he’s a great fit. he recognized me right away, but couldn’t place me for a while…finally at the end of the night, i put an end to his head scratching and told him where he remembered me from.

he chuckled and said, “man…i thought you were dead.”

so, after rehearsal, it was agreed that i, tom hampton, truly am the Snake Pliskin of the philadelphia music community.

(for those not in the know, snake was the principal character in that wondrous piece of 70’s cinema, escape from new york. every time his name was mentioned aloud, it was invariably met with “pliskin…yeah, i’ve heard of you….i heard you were dead.”)

tonight will be stone road rehearsal – and i have to ask about whether or not i can swap nights with jill to get the kids on friday night instead of tomorrow. i would really prefer to get them on friday and take them to a movie or something enjoyable, as opposed to taking them to rehearsal with me.

this weekend i know i’ll be working on saturday, then gigging saturday night…and next week i might have my first actual recording session downstairs. i have some friends coming over to record some music for a wedding…very low key, and it’s people i know…good way to ease into it.

i’m gonna spend a big chunk of the next couple of weeks getting some of my more neglected guitars whipped back into playing shape, too.

right now, though, i’m takin’ my sad ass to bed…to dream about the prospect of making another record. i’m starting to itch in that particular part of my brain again. i think i’m going to record some covers that i’ve always wanted to do and see if anything comes of that first, though.

i still have to finish sorting through and unearthing some of the stuff i want to post on the download page on the website.

diggin’ up bones

 

 

now playing: charlie degenhart, “alaska” (live from the colonial theatre)

 

nik called me on my cell phone last night, on my way home from rehearsal (as he’s prone to do) and we chatted a little bit about the band, among other things – i was harboring a secret plan to pull a whammy on him during the release party, but i spilled the beans at rehearsal last night, and he loved it. essentially, all it involved was switching from guitar to lap steel for the closing solo on the title track of the record, but it made a pretty huge difference. (i pulled a similar stunt on the guys in shame during the release party an album they did that i was heavily involved with – i was playing with them as a sideman, and there was a song that they’d cooked up an alternate ending for that had their drummer playing guitar for the song…during the transition i jumped over to the drums and a blanket of panic fell over pete, the lead singer – they had no idea that i played drums, and i hadn’t told them. it was totally spur of the moment, and it was the high point of the gig…it worked out perfectly.)

lap steel, though…it’s such an expressive instrument – it can invoke a lot of different textures, and it can totally transform a song if it’s applied in the right place…and it works on that song. nik was quite impressed.

he and i have developed a pretty symbiotic, almost telepathic relationship as players in a very short time. until he started putting this band together, i hadn’t seen him in ages, but it’s really been as if barely a day had passed.

i think i’ve finally found a band that can compete with that great band that charlie put together some four years ago. this band has a lot of potential.

i made a cursory sweep of the pile of CD’s that sit on the table in the office at home and grabbed some of the stuff off the top to bring to work today. (i really didn’t even have time for a cursory sweep, but i did so nonetheless.) i found the live recording from the charlie degenhart show at the colonial theatre in phoenixville, the first marty higgins album that i attempted to master myself, and the recent CD of roughs from the blake allen record.

the blake stuff is postable in its current form…the other two discs are gonna require some smoothing action before i can really post any of that stuff. and i’m really disapointed in “alaska”.

that’s always been one of my favorite songs of charlies’ to play – it’s a great song, and there’s ample opportunity for me to shine in it, but my tone on the recording is awful, and i feel like i hear some “nerves” as well, in retrospect. i don’t really remember being nervous – just the opposite, in fact. (and certainly, dylan wasn’t nervous for me – he and jayda were sitting in the front row, and i looked down during the third or fourth song and dylan was fast asleep.) the tone thing has me baffled – i was playing through a dual amp setup, and i had explicitly asked the soundman to mike the proper amp during soundcheck. in retrospect, it sounds like that might not’ve happened…and i can’t really remember checking his work. it definitely sounds thin on the recording, though, and i’m pretty sure i would’ve reacted at some point during the song to correct that.

damn shame.

on a happier note, though, i can salvage the mastering job on marty’s first record relatively easily…i have much better equipment now than i did when i did this, and i can do this much more accurately now than i did.

and while i don’t often blow my own horn, i gotta tell ya – the combination of marty’s voice and mine on the end of “voice in the air” and “don’t you notice” makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. serious goosebump material.

this record will forevermore be on my “all time top five” list. these songs invoke so much for me…marty, todd, and myself at the height of our collaborative powers…great songs…good times.

ok, i must mop myself up off the floor and get to work here…can’t spend all day inside my head…

well, actually, that’s always a very real possibility…

work, interrupted

 

 

now playing: jackson browne, “late for the sky”

 

…speaking of being “late for the sky”…i guess you could say that cat stevens would have fallen into that category yesterday…

apparently mr. stevens has the distinction of having been placed on uncle sam’s “no fly” list…which created a bit of a stink when it was determined that he happened to be onboard a plane headed for dulles international airport.

i will be strong, and i will resist the overwhelming temptation to work a really bad “peace train” pun into this report…

posting has been a bit light of late – and for this i apologize. i have a ton of stuff on my plate at work at the moment, and an equal amount of things on my mind that i’d like to take the time to ruminate over, but i can’t seem to maintain a train of thought for very long before i’m interrupted these days…

i had to apologize to my kids this morning when i dropped them off for school – we got home last night, ate dinner…and jayda went out to the porch to talk on the phone and dylan sat down to do his homework, so i went over and sat down on the sofa nearest the front door (having just told jayda that if she heard so much as heavy breathing from anyone that i wanted to know ASAP), and fell asleep…and slept there until after 11 o’clock. dylan apparently woke me at some point to tell me that he’d finished his homework and was going to bed, but i don’t even remember that.

there are times when i just go and go and go and go until i completely run out of gas and i end up sleeping straight through from the end of one workday to the beginning of the next…it doesn’t happen often, but when it happens on my nights with the kids, i feel highly guilty about it – i don’t want to waste the time that i have with them snoozing on the sofa.

i’m going to try to swap thursday for friday with their mom so that we can do something together to make up for it…

i’m having some serious flashbacks to an ill-fated phone call from seven years ago as a result of rachel’s most recent posting, and i’m not sure how, or if, i should elaborate on any of that…her situation sounds eerily familiar to that of someone i was once romantically involved with, and i don’t really know if i want to drudge any of that up just now.

not that i won’t eventually, though…but right now, i have to revive a couple of corpses and get them back out onto the floor before i hear about it from outside of the department.

i hate when work intrudes on my introspection time.