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Last night I got to see Ion Storm‘s inaugural show! They were amazing from the first song to the last. For those unaware I interviewed  them here. Go get acquainted with them and then come right back. It’s OK. I’ll wait.

Everything I’ve heard from them so far has impressed me, but those were only recordings. One really must see them live to get the full impact. First, amazing guitar tone and a pretty tight outfit. I know these guys practice up to 12 hours at a go and it shows. Their current bass player is a recent addition and it showed a bit, but overall he brought the low end. Drummer Tim was solid, fast, and interesting. I thought there was a moment when he was losing the beat, but it was just a part of a tempo change that was written into the song. Grady and Chris had some great harmonized riffage going on that seemed to focus around 4ths and it sounded great. My main complaint was the vocal levels. This show was at the Red Room and their vocals always seem low, but Grady represented growl well.

Oh, did I mention they have a Minotaur? His name is Drew. Look at him.

Do you have a Minotaur? No, you do not. I played bullfighter with Drew for a bit. It was good times.

This band has a lot to offer and brought the heat, which leads me to the title of this post. Look up there ↑ and read it again. At most there were three people up off their butts rocking out, including me and Drew. I wish that this was the exception rather than the rule. I know people want to blame smart phones etc, but it’s not that. In my estimation it’s our self reflective, self conscious society. To put it another way: we are afraid of having fun and looking like fools(Well, not me clearly. I played bullfighter with a Minotaur). It needs to stop now. Do it for yourself. Get up!! Dance! Bang your head!! Visibly enjoy yourself!!!

But also do it for that band up there on the stage or the one on the floor where the pool tables had to be moved to make room. They don’t spend 12 hours at a go writing and rehearsing so you can sit there drinking your PBR and golf clapping after every song. And I can guarantee you they didn’t do it for the money, because bands rarely get paid much if anything just starting out. This is a two way street. They are there for you and you need to be there for them.

Some pics from the show:

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I don’t know art, or Wilco, but I know what I like and I like this.

http://vimeo.com/49635225

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 Lia, Ramona, Paul, Tyler. Mittens! Yes, Mittens. What do you need to know about them aside from what is in the interview? That they are awesome and if you don’t like them and fall instantly in love you are dead inside and I hate you.


How did Mittens form and how long have you been together?

Lia: Ramona and I had been playing together for a long time, trying to get our songs together and find members that were a good fit. After a while of searching Ramona decided to look on Craig’s List where she found Paul. We spent a little time as a trio learning each other’s songs till we felt comfortable enough to begin auditioning drummers. Ramona went back on Craig’s List where she found Tyler. And finally Mittens was born. We’ve officially been together since around February or March of 2012.

What’s the meaning behind your name?

Lia: 42 1

How has the band been received?

Ramona: In the short time that we have been playing live, we have had a really positive response! We assumed our fans, at least in the short-term, would mainly consist of our friends and our mascot (Paul’s cat), Butters. So, we were pretty stoked to have other bands and venues contact us to book more shows so shortly after we began playing live. We’ve also received some positive emails from a few fans around the states. We’re happy if our music makes people smile. 🙂

What is your song writing process like?

Paul: What’s our songwriting process anyway? One person comes up with song, tells people, hey, here’s a new song, or hey, Ramona, finish my song?

Ramona: What’s really neat is we have three song writers in the band. Paul, Lia, and I each have a unique flavor in our song writing, which helps keep our music on its toes. Basically, one of us will introduce a song and together the four of us will Mittenize it.

What has been your favorite live show so far?

Lia: I think our favorite show was at the Tin Can Ale House with the Red Starts. The Tin Can is always a fun venue and the crowd was really great that night.

One of the things that stands out for me is your gear. I noticed you use Daisy Rock and the Hello Kitty guitar. Was that an aesthetic choice or a budgetary one?

Paul: Daisy Rock builds guitars for people with smaller builds and hands, and Ramona and myself certainly fall in that category, and the sparkles don’t hurt. Most of our instruments, such as the Mustang Bass and the Hello Kitty, are undersized. While our Hello Kitty guitars are at least part stage prop, they are personalized and modified and have made it to our recordings. My first guitar was a Hello Kitty Strat; I love those things.

What are your plans for the future?

Lia: We’d like to keep playing around, getting a bigger audience is always going to be a goal. I think our main plan is just to keep writing songs and becoming better musicians. Practice Practice.

I know you have recorded some songs. Can you tell me a little about that process and if you plan to release a CD?

Paul: We’ve mostly done recordings in my garage, getting as much as possible recorded in one take, so as to minimize overdubs and time requirements. It’s been a good way to get the first few songs recorded, but we will probably spend a bit more time and do more multi-tracking on our demos from now on.

As for releasing anything, I think it’s best for us to wait on it for now. Although I think we sound pretty good together right now, I’m still somewhat new at guitar and vocals and feel that I still have much progress to make, and I think some of my fellow Mittens also feel a little green at their craft as well. So while we want to continue to do recordings, I think we’re content for them to be demos for now. As we get more live appearances and rehearsal time under our belts, we will start feeling more and more confident about making a release that’s truly compelling.

Why should people come to see you live?

Paul: Well, we smile and harmonize. Most bands don’t bother.

If you could become any non-human animal, what would it be?

Lia: Unicorn

Tyler: Velociraptor/Platypus!

Ramona: Duh, Butters. haha

Paul: Meow


Find Mittens on Facebook

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This week we are joined by Eddie Regan. He has created a rich and dangerous, yet beautiful world as Effword. I was lucky enough to see Eddie perform with Taint Misbehavin (I hope to have an interview with them in the future). This guy as a lot of energy and it is intense. Some artists talk about being forced to create and Eddie/Effword is one of those artists. Let’s jump into the bizarre, magical, and often unsettling world of Effword.


Give me a little background on yourself. How did you get into music and video production and what projects do you have going right now?

ER: I was born on October 28th, 1983 – three days before Halloween, something I’ve always been influenced by. Growing up I was obsessed with music, horror films, and ghost stories.

During college I studied classical music and also got heavy into electronic music such as Kraftwerk and Walter Carlos. I finished school in 2006, did some traveling and continued to perform as a theater musician. In 2008 I decided to become an electronic solo artist after listening to the album ‘Silent Shout’ by The Knife.

Tell me more about Effword. How did that start and what is your goal with it?

ER: I named myself Effword after a nickname a college friend had given me. The costumes and makeup I wear as Effword add more to the show and the creative process. A lot of my favorite artists perform in makeup, masks, or fucked-up costumes. I’ve always appreciated musical performances that were more than just a band in their everyday clothes playing their songs.

Currently, I have almost enough music video content to release an audiovisual album. Like my live performance, I think it’s very powerful to have a video element for the whole entire thing, start to finish. So, my plan has been to release the album only on DVD and VHS formats.

Another short-term goal is to produce and direct my first short horror film, under my everyday name. The script is almost done, then I’ll move on to casting and coming up with the money… planning to shoot it in springtime!

How do the concepts come about? What is your writing/creative process?

ER: Some ideas just unfold naturally for me, like a dream does when sleeping – it just happens. I also find a lot of energy/motivation from getting inspired by the work of other artists; musicians, filmmakers, and visual artists.

For both writing music and creating film, I usually start out with something very simple – and more ideas come around in the process.

When my friends and I made the most recent music video for an Effword song ‘Zenith Magic’ – the process was a blast. The concept was based around a guy who takes a walk in the graveyard and follows a ghost who leads him to a briefcase which contains his funeral clothes. He puts them on and begins dancing on the ground which will soon become his cold grave. Once we had the idea for that, all kinds of crazy shit started happening! We incorporated little kids, a voodoo doll, a dead mouse, a girl playing Ouija board, a book called ‘Diseases of the Horse’, and a creepy talking genie toy named ‘Zultan’. We filmed almost the entire thing on Super 8 mm in one day, and everyone was really happy with how it turned out. It looks vintage and grainy… the colors turned out very rich.

Why did you choose to synthesize the vocals?

ER: I had been listening to lots of music with vocoder when I started doing that. Once I discovered I could sing polyphonically with a monster voice… I was hooked.

What do you want people to take away from Effword?

ER: More than anything, I want people to be inspired by my work. I want them to feel like they are on a journey, in a trance, when they watch my videos. I want my art to be an escape from reality, and I want people to explore their dark side with me. And for everyone to smash the shit out of their flat screens and get a tube TV.

Are you playing a character when you do Effword or is it just another part of Eddie Regan?

ER: I’ve always thought of Effword as a subconscious entity who wants me to do absolutely nothing but create. He doesn’t give a fuck about a single aspect of my personal life, he doesn’t want me to have one. Sounds crazy, but it’s true!

What has been the overall reaction to Effword?

ER: It’s usually been positive! Especially since I started performing live to my music videos on a projection screen, people really respond to that. Not everyone knows what there getting into when they walk into a show… it’s awesome having the visuals, I’m never going back. People who would normally be out of the room to smoke a fag every three minutes get glued to the screen! I’ve been very lucky to find venues that suit my style as well. The Lovecraft Bar has always been my favorite venue to play, and I’m looking forward to my first show at The Jack London, also the perfect kind of joint for me. At the end of September I’ll go to Astoria to play at The Voodoo Room. It’s decorated with New Orleans Voodoo posters, devils, and other varieties of wierd cool shit! They have a giant Ouija board as one of their seating tables.

The videos all seem to be taking place in the same world. What can you tell me about that world?

ER: I like to explore the gates that lie between the individual’s dream world, the reality-world that we all live in together, and the unknown. I like the experience of exploring those worlds to be timeless. The video for ‘Rotto Cuppo’ was my first expression of that journey. ‘Warm Like Summer’ and ‘Zenith Magic’, while different in many ways, share a similar vibe.

What are you plans for the future with Effword?

ER: On the shorter term, I’ll be playing that show at The Jack London Bar on September 1st, also at the Voodoo Room on September 29th. Probably an October show somewhere back here in Portland. This fall I will shoot a music video soon for my newest song, ‘Murder’. Once I get that done, I should be ready to launch that DVD as a music video album.

As far as longer term goes, concerning Effword – I will probably continue to do more of the same, bring the act to new places, expand my audience. I really want to be an independent film maker, especially in the horror genre. Some people say everything that can be done with horror has been done already. I don’t agree nor do I really give a shit even if it’s true. I’ve always been a Halloween baby and a lifelong fan of horror films… so I want to live and work and play in that world. I want to create a horror sanctuary for both grown-ups and children.

I think a lot of horror filmmakers nowadays try to go for shock value, to push the boundaries further than ever, I would never discourage them! As much as I like that stuff, and I want to do it, I’m more interested in the feel we get from horror, in the world we can create with it. It really is a fantastic and warm place!

If you could be a squash, what kind of squash would it be and why? 

ER: A pumpkin of course!  Since they get faces carved into them they are by far the most expressive squash 😉


Big thanks to Eddie for his time and sharing. You can see more of his videos at Effword on Youtube

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Travis Mataya: musician, artist, writer, introvert, and frakking brilliant. As long as I have known him I have always respected Travis’s ability to analyze a situation, a song, a fellow musician, or ideas at a higher level. Let’s see what this cool cat is all about!


You and I met because of guitar.com though not actually on it if memory serves. I met your wife there and then you via her. Give us a little bit on your musical background. How you started and what instruments you play.

TM: The first thing I ever played was a Smurfs drum set my parents got me when I was two-years old. Today, however, I prefer to just program them. As a grade-schooler, I had music class every day, I played clarinet, and I sang in both the church and school choir. In middle school up to high school, I was a trumpet player, but I ended up quitting when marching band became mandatory. I really hated the dorky uniforms and didn’t need to give my bullies any more ammunition, however, I did wind up being forced into performing in a parade at some point. I started playing guitar in my late teens. And unlike most guitarists, I’m honest about this: I initially just did it for the chicks. I was a socially awkward geek and needed all the help I could get … it definitely worked!

I’ve had a few garage bands and have done everything from performing on stage to playing on sidewalks, and doing session work in state-of-the-art studios. And I’m technically a music school drop out; it was due to financial limitations. But I’ve been lucky to have taken lessons and learned from amazing guitarists like Jake Willson and Nicholas Scott. The story of my life has been meeting players better than me and becoming inspired to reach higher levels. And I can’t stress how important that has been in my musical development.

And aside from the aforementioned instruments, I also play piano, bass guitar, and occasionally attempt musicalesque sounds with my vocal chords.

One of the things that strikes me most about your music is the variety of genres in which you write. Why do you write as varied as you do, what inspires you, and what is your song writing process is like?

TM: I don’t have any commitment to specific sounds and don’t like to be creatively limited; I have more the mentality of a video game or film composer than a typical musician. I will often start with a cinematic idea and then transfer it into music. And my writing process, like my style, varies. Sometimes it’s just instantaneous from my brain to my fingers. But most of the time, I’ll have a vague idea and play with different rhythms, scales, modes, chords and arpeggios until I get the feel I’m looking for. From there on out, I’m just a session musician for my subconscious.

What, for you, makes a great song?

TM: Balls. I know that sounds a bit weird. But from Mozart to Michael Jackson, I think greatness comes from having the cojones to attempt something bigger than yourself.

What traits do you respect in a fellow musician?

I respect a personality and that extends beyond music. I really can’t stand people who only want to talk about music or their specific instrument. And I really respect musical knowledge both in theory and history. But ultimately, self awareness is probably the most respectable trait. There are far too many people running around thinking they’re being artistic, complex, or creative by sounding exactly like their favorite commercially successful band.

What have been consistently good bands for you to listen to and what are you really into right now? 

TM: I don’t really listen to anything consistently; I’m all over the place. In terms of bands, it’s easy to list off the classic big names, but for some reason The Hooters have followed me throughout my life. Also, I love Michael Jackson, Prince, Stevie Wonder, Frank Zappa, Steve Vai, and often I will geek out to Rhapsody or get my polyrythmical fix from Meshuggah or Tool.

For the last few years I’ve been into Jazz and absolutely love Gregory Porter. He reaches me on a visceral level. It’s real magic if you ask me. He transports the listener into his world, and it’s a great place to visit.

Hiromi is another artist who is just something really special. I’ve gotten to see her perform live, and I’ve never recovered from the musical insanity I witnessed.

What’s the story behind Happy UFO Land?

TM: Happy UFO Land is a place in my mind. I wanted to recapture how it feels to be a kid with a wild imagination. It’s really musical surrealism: Imagine the perfect suburb with everything being absolutely cliche except for those classic 50’s style UFOs parked in the sky. The song is the soundtrack to an afternoon stroll down that street.

Also, I chose a theremin for the lead because it’s one of my favorite instruments of all time; it’s really underused in music. For me, it’s the best at evoking a sense of wonder, weirdness, and imagination. I also created a UFO hovering sound and applied audio filters to give it a realistic Doppler effect as it’s heard passing over the listener’s head.

What’s your home studio like?

TM: It’s a large room with wall mounted monitors, a giant desk, a server DAW, Lambda interface, a Boss drum machine, Pod 2.0, and a bunch of amps, guitars, and mikes. I also have guitar posters hanging up on the walls, a vintage Wurlitzer 200A (The same model Ray Charles used to play), and a steel guitar in there.

How did you get involved in the Lewis Martin Pederson project and what did you do on it?

Well, he hadn’t recorded an album since the days back when he was signed to a label, touring, and performing on TV. And he asked me to help him. Initially he just wanted demo, but it snowballed into a full album; he just had so many songs! I did all the engineering and was responsible for all the drums and lead guitar; I also played mandolin and bass on a couple of songs.

What did you learn from that experience?

TM: I learned that I have what it takes to sit down and record a full album by myself: Something I’ve never felt comfortable with before.

Any links where people can buy your music?

TM: Nope, anything I put on the Internet is purely for sharing with anyone who wants to read, listen, or look at it.

You also do art and writing in addition to your music. You even shared a tutorial on how to draw a dragon on your blog “Dragons Are Delicious.” Anything you would like to share on that front?

TM: I’ve always been an artist as far back as I can remember. As a kid I’ve won some big awards, been published, and had my work on display. My father was an artist, and I really just wanted to be like him; he was also a musician! But it’s something that comes very naturally to me, and I don’t need to think about it — which is really good because I’m often a very lazy painter.

Did your father have any impact on your style of art?

TM: Somewhat, he was responsible for me getting into comic books, but our styles are completely different; he’s much better with ink than I am.

I was also privileged to read an excerpt from your science fiction novel. I have to say the bit I read got me really intrigued. What would you like people to know about it and what are your plans for it?

TM: My ambitions with it go right to the moon. I remember hearing Alan Moore speak about how writing was literally magic: Meticulously arranged symbols that when read can have a real and very powerful effect on someone. And that’s really what I want to do. But it’s tough to talk about a WIP as I’m way too paranoid about people stealing my ideas, unintentionally even. But that’s currently my biggest project, and writing is really the way I would like to leave an impact on the world.

What are books you would recommend that exhibit that magic?

Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions. I think it really can affect the reader without them even knowing it. It’s not until after you’ve read Vonnegut do you get this sense that you’ve grown a bit as a person and gained some brilliant, new perspective.

Moby Dick is another one. It can be a really tough read with all the out of date Whaling information, but it’s a story that matures its readers and follows them throughout their entire life.

David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest is another great example. It’s like a maze for the intellect. And if you can navigate your way to the end, you will be rewarded. It puts you into a complex, surrealistic world and gets you to believe it’s normal, even routine. Ultimately, it imparts real character depth to anyone willing to put the work in.

At your funeral your friends are only allowed to drink one beverage. What beverage is it?

TM: Hi-C’s Ecto Cooler.

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http://feeds.boingboing.net/~r/boingboing/iBag/~3/VofFkPeR3Vk/riaa-lobbyist-turned-judge-run.html

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This week we are joined by Scott Woeckel. He is prolific and varied in his pursuits and talents. His answers are incredibly thoughtful and I really enjoy his perspective on one of his goals for his band Everyday Ghost. There is a lot to experience here so let’s jump in.


First, thank you so much for doing this. You have quite a lot going on it seems. I want to ask you about most if not all of it, but first let’s discuss Everyday Ghost. Can you tell me how EDG got started?

SW: My pleasure. and thank you for having me! EDG got started after I got back from Seattle in February 2011. My good friend and long time musical associate Wood Fowler had passed away suddenly up there and I just got to thinking about where I was going with my music life and everything else you think about when a death hits so close. So, what had originally started out as a recording project turned into a full blown live band when Charlie Peterson found me on Craigslist looking for a pedal steel man. As fortune would have it he’s one of about two of the truly great pedal steel players in the great city of Los Angeles. He’s a complete source of inspiration, and the first day we met, we played EDG’s first gig on a Saturday night at T-Boyles in Pasadena entertaining a rugby team as a duo. Add in a couple of extremely talented guys on drums and bass, and we started booking shows around some of my old haunts.
How long have you been together?
SW: About a year and a half now.
What’s the reception been like?
SW: It’s been mostly really good. There’s always gonna be bad gigs, and clams, and with a new band it’s a rocky road sometimes to go through those growing pains to get to the really good stuff. But I don’t think we’ve played a show yet where someone hasn’t come up to us and said they really liked this or that tune. I think the biggest compliment has just been people coming back to hear us play again!
What’s your song writing process?
SW: It’s eclectic. Whenever I write a song though I hear a soundbite of Thelonius Monk running through my head which says, “Keep it simple as possible, so people will dig it.” Aside from trying to keep things simple, I’ve got songs that have started from all elements of music…a melody, a chord voicing or progression, a rhythm, a lyric. I could start writing a song from the ending just about as well as the beginning, or the middle, so long as I keep it simple and the song I wind up with at the end holds together as a whole and conveys to me what I want it to convey. The best ones are always fast, they come together in a day or two at most…the ones that tend to be unsalvagable train wrecks are usually the ones I toiled over for a week or more. So these days I just try to capture the inspiration when it’s there and capture as much information as possible while it’s there.
Any plans to record?
SW: Yes! Lot’s of plans to record. I still have a record to finish, and I’ve written a lot of new material I’d like to be on it, so I’m hoping to get back into the studio in the coming months and start tracking!
What is your goal with EDG?

SW: A difficult one to articulate, but I think the main goal driving EDG is to foremost and primarily acknowledge that we are upright, and sucking air. Therefore, as musicians, we must play…regardless of any particular material goal, such as to be rich and famous. I think a lot of the music we’re doing has the power to touch hurting souls, and maybe even lift them up and let them know they aren’t alone. And if we can achieve that through this music, I would consider that a goal worth pursuing.

Let’s switch gears a little. Tell me about the work you’ve been doing with Brandon Schott. 
SW: I’ve had a great time working with Brandon in support of his awesome new record “13 Satellites”. Brandon is an inspiring and unique talent, and I’ve been honored to work on a few videos with him and just be a part of it. Brandon has a way getting things in motion and done, and just seeing how hard he’s worked for so many years and through so many challenges, I hope any small part I’ve played will help him toward the recognition for his art, which he deserves.
What have you learned from that?
SW: I think I’ve learned it really takes an army working behind you these days if you expect to make any kind of major impact or dent in today’s musical landscape. There’s just so much stuff you have to do to simply keep from being forgotten about from one day to the next. It takes care, marketing, and a lot of financial planning, and the help of a lot of good friends to put a solid record into contention out there on your own.
What is the Moonflower work you’ve been doing?
SW: Moonflower is a really cool studio project that has spawned into all kinds of things. That band is the brainchild of James & Martine Dryden, they wrote all the material and have been kind enough to let me play a little double bass and guitar on a few tracks, as well as a little tenor sax. James is one of the best audio mixologists out there, and the record “Hey Daddy’O” is done, it’s in the can, and hopefully will be released very soon.
One of my favorite songs you wrote is “Small Town Love.” How did that song come about?
SW: Thanks! That’s a really personal tune, I wrote it after what amounted to a realization that I was no longer the small town boy I used to be and recognizing I had become alienated from that whole world. I come from a place where very few people have had the opportunity to truly pursue their dreams, and I tried to reconcile all those conflicting feelings in that song.

Small Town Love

You play guitar and sing, but you also play saxophone. How did you first get started playing sax?
SW: Well, my guitar playing is highly inspired by horn players, as opposed to guitar players. So I was always on the look out for a sax to try, and I did pick up the clarinet in college which gave me a little taste of the world of winds, and even studied and played with Harold Land for a few years, but I was poor, so I didn’t really get an opportunity to try a sax even. So a few years ago I picked up a sax, and started teaching myself to play, and the rest has just been expensive. Saxophone is an expensive habit. And it’s extremely addictive, and challenging, and worth every moment. I will say I’ve always held saxophonists in high esteem, but having walked in their shoes, I have an immense new respect for the instrument and even more awe when it comes to the great masters.

“I think a lot of the music we’re doing has the power to touch hurting souls”

What attracts you to jazz?
SW: Freedom. It’s one of the few genres of music that demands a certain sense of spontaneity, sophistication, rhythm, and musicality…and if you can put all that together in collective or individual fashion you can travel to some really amazing places. And not just musically, there is a space in jazz thats akin to “the zone” you feel in any great athletic sport, but it’s bottomless, and boundless. There are moments in jazz when you are playing from that space where you couldn’t play a wrong note, in the wrong spot, at the wrong time, if you tried. Having experienced that space, and knowing it’s there is a very spiritual connection, and I feel it most strongly expressed through the jazz idiom. That being said though, I think the space is the same for all music. In other words, I believe you can still be playing “jazz” in that spiritual-spacial-zone, even while reading down a Beethoven sonata for instance. And I think it’s that knowledge that allows me to move fairly freely through various genres of music, and instruments without ever feeling stuck, or committed to playing, say, one style of music.
Check out Scott’s sax skills: Stella By Starlight
Are you able to tell me anything about the new Plasticsoul record?
 
SW: All I can say is a few of the tracks that will be on that have been stuck in my ear since the first time I heard them live. Plasticsoul is my favorite LA band, and if you’ve heard “Peacock Swagger”, I imagine the new Plasticsoul record will be similar, but I believe it goes to 11. That’s one more.
What are your hopes/plans for the future as far as your involvement with music?
SW: For the most part to just keep doing it. I’m never bored, and music could easily occupy all of my time. I think the most important thing for me is to keep learning, searching, growing and expanding my abilities and keeping the music as fun as possible. Although I’ve been involved in the music industry for over three decades now, I still feel like a beginner. There’s always something new to learn, and it’s amazing the places music can take you. You just never know!
What is your favorite flavor of ice cream and why?
SW: Strawberry, and I have no idea!

Thanks again to Scott. Remember to follow Everyday Ghost at https://www.facebook.com/EverydayGhostBand

Also check out The Tremors, one of Scott’s previous bands. Country, rootsy, folky, bluegrassy, alt-rock about guns, drivin’, drinkin’, & heartache: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/tremors

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So I was very lucky to see Eric Johnson last night thanks to my good friend, Ted (he’s also my step-father-in-law. What? that’s a thing.) I’ve only seen him live in concert once before. Eric Johnson, not Ted. I’ve seen Ted live lots before, though not in concert… I was 16 ( again referring to Eric Johnson not Ted), it was in San Diego at Symphony Hall, and an as yet unknown, at least to me, Sarah Mclaughlin opened for him. This time around it was at the Aladdin Theater in Portland, Or. First let me say it is a great venue. Everyone I talked to said a version of “not a bad seat in the whole place” and they are right.

It was a great show. Eric was backed by Chris Maresh on bass and Wayne Salzmann II on drums. Maresh and Salzman are amazing!  Really interesting thing, they seemed to be their own opening band. They played a 45 min set and then took a break and then came back for a full set. I almost wish I had written down their set, but honestly I was too engaged in just enjoying the show and letting it wash over me.

Eric Johnson was one of my early guitar heroes. He has it all. Amazing tone, great technique, dedication to writing songs that fit his perspective of what is great, and he also has one of the two right hands in guitardom that I would want, the other being James Hetfield’s. Seriously, EJ can pick like nobody’s business and finger pick, and do a combination of both.

Check out the Fenders and Marshall and EJ’s pedals!

The Show 

The opening 45 minute set was tight and rocking great energy with some crowd favorites. After the break EJ was solo on the stage with an acoustic and played a few songs that blew me away. His technique is insane. For those of you who do not play let me tell you it is easier to shred on an electric than an acoustic and EJ played flawlessly on his acoustic and did shred, but in a tasteful way. Yes, yes he did.
Maresh and Salzman came back out and the band got to rocking again. Then, about halfway through the second set they played “Nothing Can Keep Me From You” and this was the first wrong note for me. Now, let me be clear-I. Love. That. Song. But, it came after an incredible version of a Coltrane song that highlighted everyone’s talents. Side note: Salzman owned those drums and Maresh made me consider giving up the bass.

Chris Maresh’s pedal board

Back to my point. It may have been that “Nothing Can Keep Me From You” came after such an amazing performance, but EJ also seemed to be a little off his game at this point. His phrasing was a little stuttery. THAT may have been due to the fact that they just got back from Europe and had been awake since 6 a.m. But I think there is more to it than that. When they played some other songs off of “Ah Via Musicom” I noticed the same thing, but when they played newer songs or covers EJ seemed to be more on. To clarify, not bagging on him, it was still better than 95% of guitarists out there when EJ was off. So no “Eff you dude” and no “Yeah he sucks.”

There was one encore and it was great! They closed with “Wind Cries Mary.” And then it was over and I didn’t want it to be over. But I scrambled up front to get some pictures, which was difficult because there was still a grip of people at the front milling about.

Drums and bass rig

Final Thoughts

Eric Johnson is stil the man at 57. The newer material is stronger than one might expect and my observations on the “Ah Via Musicom” aside he is still vital. I look forward to seeing him the next time he comes around. Also, I still need this jacket ↓

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This week we have Portland, OR “old-timey, banjo and washtub bass, kids music” songsters Father’s Pocketwatch. A trio of talented musicians. They are Tyson, Ryan, and Brian. They apparently had a little extra time on their hands and went and did some vidyas. I am pleased as punch. They were very creative and entertaining in their responses.

Please visit their webiste, www.fatherspocketwatch.com, and enjoy the interview done in 3 parts below. Oh, also, there’s a Pandorpion! That’s right..PANDORPION!!!!

Part the first

Part the second

Part the third

Did you see it? The Pandorpion? Thank you so much Tyson, Ryan, and Brian. The videos are great. And remember kids visit their website and buy their “Premium Sampler” to help fund their next album. www.fatherspocketwatch.com

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As mentioned in the previous post I am embarking on a series of interviews with my talented friends and acquaintances. This first interview is with Terry Sheldrick from Netheravon, Wiltshire, United Kingdom. Terry and I first met via guitar.com. (that site will come up a few more times in future interviews)

Terry’s band/music project is Dirty Face. It’s straight ahead rock. When I listen to his music I can tell the tones he recorded started in his head and he has a real honest vocal style that is easy for me to appreciate. In the interest of full disclosure I did do some design work for Terry’s album “Cocaine Woman”, which you can purchase at Create Space or Amazon. I recommend getting it from Create Space as Terry will see a larger cut of that and I’m all about supporting the arts!


Dirty Face is pretty much just you right?

TS: Yeah Dirty Face is just me. I kind of have been a one man band since I picked up the electric guitar. Just me and my brain!

What does your name mean?

TS: Well, the name came because of my 6 year old son. I never shave when going into a studio or when writing, not sure why just like to be the caveman singing dirty blues! Anyway, when returning home from the studio my son said I had a Dirty face and the name stuck!

What is your song writing process like?

TS: I don’t sit down and think I must write a song. Do that and you end up with a headache. I don’t play guitar everyday. Sorry, but you’ve either got it in your head already or you should just take up needle work!

Tell me about the writing and recording process for Cocaine Woman?

TS: Believe it or not but Cocaine Woman from lyrics to chords, chorus, solo, and bass were done within 15 minutes. It was the first song I had for the album. When I had that I just knew an album was born plus I had just found my old producer on facebook so believe in fate or not something was working that Christmas 2010! Then started recording in jan 2011!!

Did you do all the instruments?

TS: Yeah, done the guitar work also bass, solos, the drums where down to a good old drum machine I’m not really a gadget person I’m fairly lazy like that.

Did you have people sit in?

TS: No just me and my producer Ian Marshall wish I could of really but the budget was tight and I was and still am funding this all by myself! Maybe in the second album!!

Where did you record and what was it like?

TS: The Album was recorded in Salisbury City County Wiltshire England, It was a great feeling getting back into the music studio and meeting up with Ian again who I had not seen for awhile. For me it just feels like you are an 8 year old boy in a sweet shop; you can’t stop smiling!

Tell me a little about the gear you use.

TS: I have my beautiful Fender black top “Mexican” also an 8 track CD Boss recorder which I do all my work demos on. With so much to chose from in pedals “that’s when I get headaches” lol.

What have you learned from that process that will change recording the next album?

TS: This one is a difficult question really. I would have loved more time, money, backing singers, but really go with what you got. I’m a firm believer in not putting things on albums because it sounds nice for someone else; it should be always for you! The second album is something for another day in time, but what I will say is I’ll be playing on it!

Plans for the future?

TS: I want to at least give Dirty Face a shot, a chance out there. We all want to be loved, I’m no different! It’s a good album.

If you could be a plant, what plant would it be and why?

TS: I’ve smoked a lot of plants in my time! But the one I can remember as a child was the Bluebell. We used to go on school trips to Westwood. I was always blown away, hence there is a song called “Bluebell Woods” on the second album! Brings me back a smile again!


I want to thank Terry for taking the time to share a little bit of what makes him and Dirty Face tick. You can find Dirty Face on Facebook here: Dirty Face

Album available at Create Space or Amazon

And I leave you with a fun video of the title track off Terry’s album

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