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Hash’s Faves: “Deserted Cities of the Heart”

14 May

Wheels_Of_FireThis week’s pick is more goddam hippie music; it’s the song “Deserted Cities of the Heart”performed by Cream, written by Jack Bruce and Pete Brown, from the band’s 1968 album Wheels Of Fire. The basic band of Bruce, Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker were augmented on the studio disc (it was a double album, one disc recorded in the studio and the other live) by producer/multi-instrumentalist Felix Pappalardi. On this particular song Bruce plays bass, acoustic guitar, cello and sings; Clapton plays electric guitar; Baker plays drums and tambourine; and Pappalardi plays the viola.

I’ve been keeping this under my hat for awhile, but for the last year I’ve been rehearsing with a new band (our maiden voyage will be on July 21) called Medicated Goo. It’s led by guitarist/vocalist John Kimsey, and is kind of an offshoot project of his Art Thieves and Twisted Roots Ensemble bands, both of which I’ve been a part of. We’re joined by John’s longtime musical partner-in-crime Dr. Brad Newton on drums; I’m playing bass and a little bit of guitar (!). The band is a cover band, with our repertoire limited (kind of) to the music of Cream, Jimi Hendrix and Traffic, although that allows us a certain amount of leeway (we play a couple of Blind Faith tunes and various other miscellanea). So what I’m trying to say here is that I’ve been immersing myself in the music of Cream.

This is the music that I grew up with, and with rare exceptions I’ve been finding that every song we add to the repertoire, I know in my bones. Maybe I’ve never played it before, on either instrument, but in my head I know how the song goes. But the really cool thing is that now that I’m way older and hopefully have a little more knowledge, I can really appreciate what made this group so special. The particular combination of personalities and musical backgrounds combined perfectly, as far as I’m concerned. In the great John McLaughlin biography Bathed In Lightning there’s talk that he was approached to be part of the band that Bruce and Baker were forming, but for whatever reason he declined. As much as I love McLaughlin, and as intriguing a band that that would have been, it wouldn’t have been the same; John was too much of a jazz player, and would have tipped the scales of the band’s chemistry too far in that direction, I think. Clapton’s background, personality, and his love for the blues helped to ground the band; Clapton himself would never describe himself as a jazz player, but he was sufficiently open-minded to be able to fit in with what the other two guys brought to the table. Baker really was a jazz drummer, while Bruce brought this whole other thing. Besides being a pretty good, and experienced jazz musician, he also had some folky leanings, and had some classical aspirations as well.

This song highlights all of these things; it has a rockin’, bluesy solo by Clapton, and the instrumental interludes sound like a combination of Baker’s jazz background and Bruce’s classicism. I wonder who came up with those bars of 3/4 in the verses, Baker or Bruce? And Jack’s bass playing is just beautiful, driving yet lyrical. The lyrics, by poet Pete Brown, are sufficiently surrealistic to accompany whatever trip you might have been on (I always pictured this song accompanying a painting by de Chirico).

Much like the Beatles, the personalities had quite a lot to do with the band’s creativity. Say what you will about Ringo’s drumming (personally, I think he’s a great drummer), but the Beatles simply would not have been as great with any other drummer. And although they started out as chums, I think that their last few albums, when personalities started to clash, were arguably their finest. And so it was with Cream; Baker and Bruce cordially (and sometimes not-so-cordially) hated each other, and I think that accounts for quite a bit of the fire, and certainly the tension, in their music. Clapton would eventually opt out of the drama, choosing the laid-back vibe of Bonnie and Delaney Bramlett’s band, and a long period of heroin and alcohol addiction. Cream’s career only lasted 2 years, with 4 studio albums, but they helped to change the face of rock music. I’d be willing to bet that quite a few rock musicians of my generation had their eyes and ears opened to the possibilities of jazz by their extended jamming, and for better or for worse the long, extended jam became a staple of rock music; punk and grunge music (again, for better or for worse) arose as a reaction against those excesses.

You can listen to it here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pL0yTZhuMzE

This post is reprinted from News From The Trenches, a weekly newsletter of commentary from the viewpoint of a working musician published by Chicago bassist Steve Hashimoto. If you’d like to start receiving it, just let him know by emailing him at steven.hashimoto@sbcglobal.net.

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Steve Hashimoto

He Flies: Some Info

3 Apr

We just finished a CD called He Flies, and it’s streaming free at BandCamp:

The CD is also available at CD Baby and digital downloads are available there, too. Digital downloads are also available at Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, and everywhere else you can download music. (At iTunes just get into the store & search for “He Flies by Kent McDaniel.”)

The lyrics to all the songs are up at BandCamp, too.

And here are the people who played on the album:

Alpha

Alpha Stewart plays percussion and/or drum kit on “May You Still Believe,” “He Flies,” and “Big Jim.” He’s who we count on for drums when we play out.

Robert

Robert Marshall plays drums on “Zombies Stink (& Vampires Suck),” “May Third,” & “Your Love Set Me Free.” He also mixed and mastered the album, at The Cave Recording in Evanston, Illinois.

photo

Dorothy McDaniel, plays bass and flute.

andrew mac

Andy MacCrimmon plays drums on “Over Yonder & Round The Bend,” “Cards on the Table,” and “Dance Till Morning Light.”

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Nicki Broeker sings harmony on “Cards on the Table.”

j.t

John Temmerman plays sax and saxello on “May You Still Believe” and “Cards on the Table.”

gus

Gus Friedlander plays banjo on “over Yonder & round the Bend.”

Me

Kent McDaniel is on vocals, acoustic and electric guitar. And wrote the ten originals on the album.

Playlist: Live at Custer Street

3 Apr

Here’s a playlist of the songs we recorded for our Live At Custer Street Album, recorded a few summRecorded at Custer Street Fair in Evanston, Illinoisers ago at Evanston’s Custer Street Fair. Originally we were only recording the songs to use with a video of the show we were making. After we listened to the set, though, we decided we had to do an album with it; it’d come off too nice not to. I’m playing guitar, Dorothy McDaniel’s playing bass, and Vic Varjan’s on drums. Dorothy and I are both singing, but I imagine you’ll be able to hear who is who.

If you really go for any of the tunes, you’re in luck: They’re all available just about anywhere music downloads are sold.

“Dance Till Morning Light”

11 Dec

Just finished mixing the song below (“Dance Till Morning Light”). The lyrics are underneath the sound Icon, and a few details about the recording are under them.

DANCE TILL MORNING LIGHT                              

WELL, YOU WALK THROUGH THE NIGHT

YOU FEEL ALLRIGHT

THOUGH NOTHING IS REALLY REAL

YOU GET AROUND YOU’RE GETTING DOWN

YOU’RE SO HIGH YOU HARDLY FEEL

YOU BEEN UP AND DOWN THE STRIP

YOU KNOW THE TRIP

ALL ONE BIG HAPPY CROWD

YEAH YOU’RE LOOKING FOR LOVE

BUT CAN’T TALK ABOVE

THE MUSIC WE PLAY SO LOUD

CHORUS:

SO JUST DANCE, CHILDREN, DANCE                                       

THIS SOFT ELECTRIC NIGHT

DANCE, DANCE TILL MORNING LIGHT

YEAH, YOUR LOCAL ROCK STARS

AND OWNERS OF THE BARS

LOVE TO SEE YOU OUT TONIGHT

GO ON FEED YOUR HEAD, KNOCK YOURSELF DEAD

YOUR MONEY’S GOOD HERE IT’S ALLRIGHT

ACROSS THE ROOM,

THROUGH THE GLOOM

SOMEBODY CATCHES YOUR EYE

SO YOU WALK THAT WAY

WHAT CAN YOU SAY?

YOU’RE BOTH REAL HIGH

CHORUS

I’m playing guitar and singing; my wife, Dorothy plays bass and flute. We recorded those tracks on Garageband and then transferred them to Protools at Evanston’s The Cave Recording, where Andrew MacCrimmon added  drums, recorded by Robert Marshall, who also mixed and mastered the recording.

Should you feel curious how and when I came to write the tune you can click on: https://dumbfoundingstories.com/2014/08/19/dance-till-morning-light/?iframe=true&theme_preview=true. That post contains said info and video of me singing the song accompanied by acoustic guitar.

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“Dance Till Morning Light” is on the album He Flies

Hash’s Faves: “I Wish”

10 Dec

i_wishThis week’s pick is Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish.”It was released as a single in 1976, and then included on the album Songs In The Key Of Life in the same year. The musicians are Nathan Watts, bass; Hank Redd, alto saxophone; Raymond Maldonado and Steve Madaio, trumpet; Trevor Laurence, tenor saxophone; trumpet; and Stevie on vocals, Fender Rhodes, ARP 2600 Synthesizer, and drums.

I played my first Christmas music gig of the year Friday and during the course of the job realized that this is really a Christmas song. Since it’s also one of my favorites and a Sueños staple, we played it, and no one objected, so jobbers, here’s your hip Christmas alternative.

The groove on this song is just the stankiest funk imaginable, driven by Watts’ bass line, which is a line that every bassist should know. It’s doubled by Stevie on synth, but he gives Watts the freedom to play some nasty fills on the vamp-out; after one of them Stevie absolutely cackles with glee. As a jobbing aside, here’s a little story from the trenches. This song is in High Society’s book, but it’s always been in the wrong key, I guess because the original key was too high for an earlier version of the band’s vocalists to handle. I hate it, because I only play a 4-string bass, and the bass line is not only impossible to play a half-step lower but it sounds stupid. Anyway, we were playing it one night with a female vocalist who was auditioning for the band. She evidently had a really weird sense of perfect pitch, because she sang it in the original key, completely ignoring us. The rhythm section made the switch somewhere in the first verse (with me thanking the Dark Gods of Jobbing,) but when the horns came in half of them hadn’t gotten the memo, so it was kind of our “Skies Of America” version of the song (look it up).

As another aside, I attended Senn high school on Chicago’s north side; it was one of the first Chicago schools to bus students in from across the city, including many black students from the south and west sides. It made for some bad moments: Senn was notable for riots in the schoolyard and fights in the halls, and the city eventually had to provide police escorts to get the black students to and from the el stop safely (you can read an account of this in the book The Old Neighborhood by Bill Hillmann, a former juvenile delinquent from my ‘hood). Bless her heart, my mother used to drive to school and fill up the car with a bunch of students who I had become friends with and drive them all the way home to the south side, which we were familiar with because when the Japanese first came to Chicago from California, out of the relocation centers, that’s where they settled, and our family dentist still had an office at 63rd and Jeffrey. Anyway, one of the first black kids I met at Senn was a guy named Larry Brown, who always claimed to be Stevie’s cousin. Stevie still hadn’t quite crossed over to massive mainstream popularity yet so most of us north siders didn’t even really know who he was talking about, but I do remember Larry brought a single in and showed us the songwriting credits, which read Stevland Morris, and for some reason that made it believable to all of us. I don’t know why this story has stuck in my brain the last 50 years.

You can listen to it here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYKYka-PNt0

This post is reprinted from News From The Trenches, a weekly newsletter of commentary from the viewpoint of a working musician published by Chicago bassist Steve Hashimoto. If you’d like to start receiving it, just let him know by emailing him at steven.hashimoto@sbcglobal.net.

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Steve Hashimoto

“May Third”

20 Nov

Just finished a rough mix of the tenth song for my next album; the song’s called “May Third” and I think the album’s going be called He Flies.  I’m posting the song’s mix below this paragraph, and below it the lyrics, and lastly a little info about the tune.

MAY THIRD

Here it is May Third

and yet clouds fill the sky

like they got a two year lease

Springtime, springtime,

I’m walking down the line

Lord knows, it’s clear to me

CHORUS:

There ain’t no cause in hanging round

The nights don’t fly like before in this town

Ain’t no cause in hanging round 

Tom he left month or so ago

Believe he’s surely gone for good

And sister Lou she don’t

treat me like she should

Boy, she really lets you know

CHORUS

Everybody’s scattered, married, or lost their way

I’se told Davy’s selling cars somewhere

A time did come, a time rolled on down the road

All it left was a song

CHORUS

I wrote “May Third” way back in the early 197os, when I lived in Carbondale, but I never recorded it before now. Not sure why not, but things happen for a reason, I guess. I’m happy with the way the recording is turning out. All’s well that ends well. Dorothy McDaniel, my sweet wife, is playing flute, and Robert Marshall is drumming. I’m playing everything else, and most of the tracks were recorded in Garageband, then transferred to Pro Tools at The Cave Recording in Evanston, where Dorothy and Robert added their parts, and Robert mixed and mastered everything. Probably a f ew more tweaks to go on it in the mix.

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Tentative cover for the album

Zombies Stink (&Vampires Suck)

17 Nov

OK, I’ll state right now that I’ve enjoyed more than my share of both zombie and vampire tales. Still, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that I think maybe, just maybe, zombies and vampires have been have been overused for several years now–in books, movies, TV, and comics. One day it occurred to me that both statements in the title up there could be seen as literally and figuratively true. Before you know it, some lyrics poking fun at the zombie/vampire glut had flowed from the old pen. Eventually I got around to putting them to music–a roots rock/rockabilly song emerged–and even more eventually to recording the song. Clicking on the icon below plays the recording of the song, and the lyrics are below the icon.

Zombies Stink and Vampires Suck

Cruisin’ long in my hybrid ride
NPR on the air inside
Terry Gross had an author on
Who had just written The Zombie Dawn
Got news for you hacks out to make a buck
Zombies stink and vampires suck

Zombies stink and vampires suck
I don’t care how you jive and shuck
I bet you actually had enough
Vampires and zombies and all their stuff
It makes no sense, I don’t care what’s been said
That zombies eat brains when they’re all dead.

And what’s so great ‘bout slurping up blood?
Your average vamp’s a stone cold dud
Sleepin’ in coffins don’t look like fun
Or always hidin’ out from the sun
All these sullen, sultry undead
‘bout to drive me outta my head

Zombies shufflin’ on down the street
Are lame and tired and let me repeat
This world needs another vampire tale
Like we need more junk in the mail
If you’re lookin’ for fans you’re flat outta luck
Cause Zombies stink and vampires suck

I played & recorded all the tracks on Garage Band, except for the drums, which Robert Marshall played & recorded at The Cave Recording in Evanston, Illinois, where  he also mixed and mastered the song.

 “Zombies Stink (and Vampires Suck)” is gonna be on the forthcoming album, He Flies.