Hang Out. Wait. Burn Like a Roman Candle. Steel Bridge Songfest TEN—June 8th through 15th, 2014

Hang Out. Wait. Burn Like a Roman Candle.
Steel Bridge Songfest TEN
June 8th through 15th, 2014

It’s hard to believe, but a fortnight has already passed since standing in the sacred circle of the Holiday Music Motel parking lot two Sunday evenings ago, spinning the spirit bottle in another round of creative mischief and holy reminders that is the Steel Bridge Songfest.

Saving an old bridge, creating new ones. After having the great fortune to meet pat mAcdonald in the spring of 2006, I was welcomed as one of 25 pioneers at the inaugural Song Construction Zone at SBSFII for a week in June ’06. After a seven-year hiatus in the collective dialog, I returned to the family circle/circus in time for SBSF9 and recounted that adventure in complete, and I do mean complete, detail for the August 2013 edition of The San Diego Troubadour. The backstory regarding the formation of the Steel Bridge Songfest is laid out, as well as the process that goes on for anyone lucky enough to be invited by pat to participate. If you are not already familiar with that narrative you are invited to check it out HERE.

Before the ephemeral-ness of SBSF10 slips back into the firmament from whence it came, here are another series of snapshots circa June 7-17, 2014 as to what went down from my particular POV. Words are woefully inadequate to express how much love and appreciation I have for all of my mystical peers within this community that is known as Steel Bridge.

I wish everyone a happy Summer Solstice. It feels great to be alive and I eagerly await Dark Songs 6 (October 26-November 2) where many of us will have the chance to reunite once again. Blessings to everyone, and I hope to see you on the road in the fall while I’m out there promoting my latest collection of songs All-American Mongrel Boy (1989-2014) and my premier foray into book publishing with Encyclopedia Walking: Pop Culture & the Alchemy of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Peace & Love…

Saturday, June 7th, 2014

Mercury stations retrograde until July 1, 2014.

Ah, the life of a touring musician… Wake up at the ungodly hour of 4:30 AM to take off from San Diego and arrive safely in Madison, WI-via Minneapolis at 2:55 PM CDT. Picked up at the airport by Dan-O Stoffels & Kayla Driscoll. Go back to their digs and hang for a bit with Ellie Maybe & her fiancé Joe Golemb, who has to leave pronto to play trumpet in a ska band in Chicago that evening. Dan-O and Ellie rehearse in their basement with Kerri Mack for their megadeft gig at 9:30 PM at the Lazy Oaf Lounge. Also on the bill is Alex Bruder and Current Seas, the trio that Dan-O & Ellie rock out balls-to-the-wall in with Brett Newski. Drive over to the facility where Dan-O teaches audio engineering and borrow a couple of PA speakers, two monitors, a snake, a box of cables, and microphones for the gig. Rehearsal includes many renditions of Kerri singing Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time.” Afterwards, we pack the gear into the van and truck it over to the venue. Load-in. Order drinks, pub grub, set up equipment, and hang out. Alex plays a solo set, followed by Kerri playing solo, before a full-on megadeft set. Current Seas then comes on and kicks COMPLETE and total ass. Before last June, I did not know a thing about Brett Newski. But the more I hear him sing and play, and become familiar with the syntax of his songs, the more I like the guy. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s an affable smart-ass with a heart of gold-with a smile always on his face and a quick rejoinder to always leave you chuckling.

I initially expressed an interest in playing this gig, but that didn’t work out. It subsequently turned out that after breaking down the PA Dan-O finds out that the promoter wanted the music to go on till 2 AM. It had lasted approximately from 9:30 PM to 12:30 AM. Merc mischief begins and I could have played this gig after all. Oy vey and oh well. Finish breaking down gear, load the van, drive back to Dan-O’s. Crash out on a futon around 2 AM whilst Joe, Ellie, and friend stay up all night in the adjacent room, causing me to wonder: were drugs involved? Friend leaves at daybreak. Hulo (Ellie’s dog) and Bro-jangles (Dan & Kayla’s cat) complete the domestic scene…

Sunday, June 8th, 2014

Awake at 10 AM, go through Moka drive-in window at 10:53 AM for… what else? A mocha. Return PA gear from facility. Go back and load up the van with all the gear that will be needed to record at the Holiday Music Motel in Sturgeon Bay. Dan-O takes a Facebook pic of the two of us in front of his van with all his equipment (“Chris Aaron eat your heart out!”). Load up my personal gear in Dan’s red Volt electric-hybrid car and head across town caravan-style to pick up Kim Manning and all of her gear (several bags and a heavy-duty suitcase). We head out of town through a bit of construction around the capital/university district, before hitting the freeway-151 N, 26 N, 41 N, 172 E, 43 N, 57N. Arrive at the Holiday Music Motel at 6 PM sharp. Dinner isn’t until 7 PM so there is time to say some preliminary hellos with the other songwriters and check-in at the front desk with air-traffic controller and organizer par excellence, miss melaniejane. MJ: “Well, since you’re a writer, and you enjoy new experiences, you will be one of the first artists that get to stay in the brand new Tambourine Collaboratory.” The Collabratory, or “Tambourine” for short, is the adjacent building to the Holiday Music Motel and it boasts it’s own performance area and stage. There are also many rooms in the back for recording and administrative functions, a store front for the public to interact with the festival (such as purchasing tickets or merchandise for the festival), and there are also places for the musicians to stay in the upstairs. It’s a very cool solution to the growth and success of the festival over the past decade. It’s very groovy and I’m assigned room #5, sharing space in the “guy’s dorm” with Dan Smrz, Tomcat Joe, Charlie Cheney, Steve Smith, and Tony Menzer. After filling out a form for MJ so she has my publishing information on file, I grab my gear from Dan-O’s Volt and haul it over to my room. As Dan-O checks in, he gets keys to the Danchez Studio/Nudio in Rooms 236 and 237. Grab a spare key to gain access to the Holiday and use the shower in 237, as the Collabratory has none-just beds and toilets. But the lack of a shower turns out to be a non-issue. Dinner is served and pat starts pumping out music from his laptop over the PA on the front lawn. Introductions are made for the first-time attendees and then all 64 of us gather into a circle for our first bottle spin on the brand new mounted Jameson bottle that sits on a lighted, circular wooden platform. The new bottle spinner is a work of art in itself. Here we go…

Day 1 Songwriting Groups:
1) Danielle French, Craig Greenberg, Jeneda Benally
2) Haydee Irizarry, Joey Weisenritter, Brett Newski
3) Berta Benally, Kim Manning, Dan Smrz
4) Charles Boheme, Sarven Manguiat, Liam Hall
5) Ronnie Sanchez, Troy Therrien, Tarl Knight
6) Barrett Tasky, Tomcat Joe, Vincent Gates
7) Sugar Ransom, Kory Murphy, Victoria Vox
8) Vee Sonnets, Michael Bleck, Lantz Lazwell
9) Charlie Cheney, Landon Capelle, Jimm McIver
10) Joanna Becker, Manny Sanchez, David Cline
11) Caleb Navarro, Carley Baer, Chris Aaron
12) Liv Mueller, Tony Menzer, Clayson Benally
13) Walter Salas-Humara, Jon Kanis, Lumberjack Cash
14) Andrea Wittgens, James Hall, Kipp Wilde
15) James Hall, Jules Luvray, John Hvezda
16) Ruby James, Geri X, Gregory Roteik
17) Anna Jo, Lena MacDonald, Stephen Cooper
18) Susan Howe, Louise Goffin, Shiri Nicole
19) Eric McFadden, Meaghan Owens

Walter Salas-Humara, Lumberjack Cash, and myself are the fated collaborators of round one. At 9:15 PM pick up a pint of Guinness from the Citgo on Michigan Street and retire to Walter’s room in 126 and get straight to work. Within a couple of hours we have written “Puente de Acero” (“Bridge Of Steel”). This is a fairly effortless writing session, as easy as writing “Welcome Home” the year before. Walter and Lumberjack Cash are a load of laughs. We track down pat and perform our song for him and he likes it as is, with no changes suggested. I put the song on the studio sign up sheet and there are three groups in front of us. By 1 AM Dan-O is ready for us to record in 236/237. Los Enemigos is a funky, little self-contained trio. My first real song exclusively about the bridge, and I love how it turned out. Mucho fabuloso!

Monday, June 9th, 2014

“Puente de Acero” by Los Enemigos, written by Lumberjack Cash, Jon Kanis & Walter Salas-Humara in room 126, June 8th, 2014 @ 10:00 PM-midnight. Engineered & mixed by Dan-O Stoffels 1:00-3:00 AM on 06.09.14. Personnel: Walter Salas-Humara (drums, lead vocal), Jon Kanis (electric bass, harmony vocal, keyboard), Lumberjack Cash (electric guitar, vocals & Español rap).

Intro

[E] / [D#] / [D]
[G] / [G#] / [A]

Am riff
Puente de acero
Contra la fuente de dinero
Continua el peleo
En la hora del sincero

G riff
El pendejo enemigo
Hasta juego
Por ahora

Am riff
Lovely bridge of steel
With the power of the righteous

Has the money in the corner
And the hammer in the temple

G riff
Goodbye my enemy
So long so far

Chorus
[C] Win the [D] world

[F] Llega el latino
Fuera del camino

[C] Win the [D] world
[F] Ear to the ground

[G] Listening for the sound
[E] Cross [D#] the [D] bridge
[G] Bridge [G#] of [A] steel

Am riff
Puente de acero

Contra la fuente de dinero
Has the money in the corner
And the hammer in the temple

G riff
El pendejo enemigo
So long so far

Chorus
[C] Win the [D] world

[F] Llega el latino
Fuera del camino

[C] Win the [D] world
[F] Ear to the ground

[G] Listening for the sound
[E] Cross [D#] the [D] bridge
[G] Bridge [G#] of [A] steel

Bridge
[F] / [E] / [Am]
[F] / [E] / [Am]
[F] / [E]
[F] / [E]
[F] / [E]

Am riff

Chorus
Chorus

[E] Cross [D#] the [D] bridge
[G] Bridge [G#] of [A] steel

After tracking our first song I head out into the good night and take pause to hang out around the campfire with some of the resident songwriters: Charles & Renee Boheme, Carley Baer, Gregory Roteik, Charlie Cheney, Digger, and Vee Sonnets. Drink Charles’ cherry-flavored Manhattans after a couple of Guinness and end up paying for it in the coming daybreak. See the sunrise around 5:30 AM and go to bed. Wake up uneasy/queasy around 10:30 AM. Sit in the shade sipping coffee with Walter and Charles. A wee-bit hair-of-the-dog Irish whisky surprisingly puts me right side up. Ronnie Sanchez of the massively talented trio GrooveSession comes through once again by allowing me the use of his backup bass-this time it’s a blonde B.C. Rich dubbed “Goldie Hawn,” as opposed to his main squeeze “Marilyn.” A little holistic treatment seals the deal on putting my head back on straight.

Dinner at 6 PM and listening party #1. Dan-O has three songs ready, and Steve Smith/Chris Aaron’s studio has several songs ready, but none of Steve Hamilton’s sessions are mixed, so we don’t get to hear them. “Puente de Acero” sounds great and we all hear the debut of “Whiskey And Blow,” soon to be my favorite song of the week. Newski, Haydee Irizarry, and Joey Weisenritter rule!

Day 2 Songwriting Groups:
1) Gregory Roteik, Vincent Gates, Landon Capelle
2) Tony Menzer, Tarl Knight, Liv Mueller
3) Lumberjack Cash, Jules Luvray, Berta Benally
4) Kim Manning, Louise Goffin, Susan Howe
5) Clayson Benally, Shiri Nicole, David Cline
6) Walter Salas-Humara, Joanna Becker, Eric McFadden
7) Sarven Manguiat, Stephen Cooper, Andrea Wittgens
8) Jimm McIver, Graciana Holland, Craig Greenberg
9) Vee Sonnets, Victoria Vox, Haydee Irizarry
10) Anna Jo, Meaghan Owens, Joey Weisenritter
11) Ronnie Sanchez, Lantz Lazwell, Jon Kanis
12) John Hvezda, Caleb Navarro, Jeneda Benally
13) Hayden Wells, Michael Bleck, Liam Hall
14) Jamey Clark, Kipp Wilde, Ruby James
15) Lena MacDonald, Manny Sanchez, Charlie Cheney
16) Troy Therrien, Steve Smith, Brett Newski
17) James Hall, Kory Murphy, Charles Boheme
18) Geri X, Carley Baer, Barrett Tasky
19) Sugar Ransom, Danielle French, Tomcat Joe

The second bottle spin produces a trio with Ronnie Sanchez and Lantz Laswell. I already have a love affair going with Ronnie, so that’s great, but I have no sense of who Lantz is-but not to worry, as I will overflowing his essence soon enough. We embark upon a comedy of errors regarding where we are going to write. Ronnie and I start writing a Who/Stones type of song in room 127 called “The Sounds of Something New,” but Lantz wants us move us over to the Tambourine so he can use the keyboard there. By the time we get over to the Tambo someone else has commandeered the stage. I suggest grabbing a portable keyboard from underneath the Christmas tree in the lobby and we go back to 127 and start working on a song that will ultimately be called “Automatic.” I found this writing session to be fraught with frustration because I didn’t feel like Lantz was listening to any of Ronnie’s or my suggestions. The only ideas he seemed to like were the ones originating from him. I probably wouldn’t have minded so much if the lyrics that Lantz was coming up didn’t seem so banal. I eventually came to see the song as an opportunity to sing dual lead lines with Lantz. We finished the song around 1:30 AM and performed the song for pat and he suggested losing the “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” riff that I was playing on the guitar and straighten out the vibe a bit-make it less Keef-like. So I did. Otherwise pat seemed to like the song and we ended up performing it for him a second time, after he suggested a new bass line for Ronnie to play-which totally transformed the song. The bass part reminds me a lot of INXS’ “Elegantly Wasted,” which I particularly love. The song gets the seal of approval and I post it on the studio log and by now it is 1:45 AM. Lantz says we’re going to go in to the first available studio. I tell ‘em to text me when the studio is open and I go off to my room and lay down for 20 minutes. My reverie of rest is quickly broken when…

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

At 2:20 AM I get a text telling me to meet in Steve Smith’s studio and I prepare a lead sheet/chord chart including the song lyrics to “Automatic”-and then I’m unable to get my computer to network with the printer, so I bring my laptop to the studio so that Lantz can read the lyrics.

Employing the filter of self-acceptance. A short bit of studio drama then ensues before we even start tracking. Lantz goes off on me because I am fooling around on the guitar, absent-mindedly playing my little Stones riff over in the corner in an effort to stay awake. Like a bolt, Lantz says “You’re doing that just to fuck with me aren’t you? pat asked you not to play that [riff], and I asked you not to play it and now you’re just doing it to fuck with me.” Shocked and stunned, my disbelief causes me to respond with “Man, I’m just trying to stay awake, so calm down. Everything isn’t about you.” When it came time to track I played my part exactly as we rehearsed it for hours beforehand, except that somehow, in the final analysis, the key had shifted from A major to A minor. After getting a decent rhythm track in two takes, with Vee, Manny, and Ronnie kicking mucho ass, Lantz overdubbed his vocal. I then tracked my vocal an octave above Lantz, and thought the two parts worked well together. By 5 AM I am southern-fried and went off to crash, leaving Lantz to do his keyboard part with Steve Smith. By 6:30 AM the track is “finished” with a rough mix, but the vocals are way out of balance and my guitar needs to be fixed because of the key change. Much of what we painstakingly rehearsed got changed on the spot in the studio. I wasn’t happy with the erratic approach, but did my best to not get willfully uptight about it and go with the flow. Sometimes it’s frustrating when you care enough about your work for it not to be compromised, and you’re at the mercy of several stewards attempting to steer the ship. I ultimately came to really like how the track turned out, but it would take a bit more effort, and perspective, for that to occur.

“Automatic” by The Shifters, written by Jon Kanis, Lantz Laswell & Ronnie Sanchez in room 127, June 9th, 2014 @ 10:00 PM-1:30 AM. Engineered & mixed by Steve Smith in the Tambourine Collaboratory 3:00-6:30 AM on 06.10.14. Personnel: Jon Kanis (electric guitar, vocal), Lance Laswell (keyboard, vocals), Ronnie Sanchez (electric bass, vocals), Vee Sonnets (lead guitar), Manny Sanchez (drums).

[Am/C/D] It comes so easy / easy for you
[Am/C/D] You drive ‘em so crazy doing what you do
[Am/C/D] So what’s it to ya / what I wear
[Am/C/D] Always see you dancing in your underwear.

[F] We don’t have to talk about it
[G] It just comes so automatic
[G/Am-G/Am] Come to me, love me
[F] You know you can’t live without it
[G] Our love is so automatic
[G/Am-G/Am] Come to me, love me

[Am/C/D] You got me fiending / fiending for you
[Am/C/D] I can’t get enough, girl you know it’s true
[Am/C/D] Anticipating / your next move
[Am/C/D] I’ll be here waiting to feel your groove

[F] We don’t have to talk about it
[G] It just comes so automatic
[G/Am-G/Am] Come to me, love me
[F] You know you can’t live without it
[G] Our love is so automatic
[G/Am-G/Am] Come to me, love me

[D/F/Am] All that I need
[C/D/F/Am] All that I need
[C/D/F/Am] All that I need
[C/D/F/Am] All that I need
[C / C / C – rest]

[F] We don’t have to talk about it
[G] It just comes so automatic
[G/Am-G/Am] Come to me, love me
[F] You know you can’t live without it
[G] Our love is so automatic
[G/Am-G/Am] Come to me, love me

[F] We don’t have to talk about it
[G] It just comes so automatic
[G/Am-G/Am] Come to me, love me
[F] You know you can’t live without it
[G] Our love is so automatic
[G/Am-G/Am] Come to me, love me
[G/Am-G/Am] Come to me, love me
[G/Am-G/Am] Come to me, love me
[G/Am-G/Am] Come to me, love me.

double time

[G/A-G/A] Love me
[G/A-G/A] Love me
[G/A-G/A] Love me
[G/A-G/A] Love me

Crash out after the session and catch five hours of sleep. Coffee, bagel, hard-boiled egg, orange juice. Slightly bummed about the session from the night before. Do some venting with Ronnie the morning after, as well as with Kim and do my utmost to cut the experience loose. What do I need to learn from this? Ironically, by the end of the week, I would end up having a great deal of affection for Mr. Laswell, but that took a couple of more days to conjure up and transform in my psyche.

Dinner at 6 PM and listening party #2. There are a ton of new songs this evening and we all gather to listen on the front lawn again. All of Steve Hamilton’s songs are mixed and we finally get caught up with the backlog. As usual, great stuff is pouring out of all four studios. When all the tracks have been presented to the group we get together in a circle and do our third and final bottle spin. This final group puts me together with James Hall and Jimm McIver. Three Js. I drop to my knees and thank Jesus and several of the songwriters (no ego problems here) tell me that I should thank THEM and to spin the frickin’ bottle already. People are anxious to begin apparently. At 9:48 PM James, Jimm and I retire to room 128 and begin writing a jazzy/lounge-type of song about the festival, but Jimm keeps beting called away to finish up his second bottle spin song with Craig Greenberg and Graciana Holland called “Sealed With A Kiss.” pat apparently doesn’t care for the title (it is kind of a cliché) and wants them to change it. Eventually it morphs into “Say It With A Kiss,” and the problem is solved with a much better song resulting. The downside to that victory is that James, Jimm and I never regain our momentum and even though we wind up with two verses, we never end up finishing our song. This is a bit disappointing but perhaps we’ll finish it at Dark Songs?

“What Do I Know?” written (incomplete) by James Hall, Jon Kanis & Jimm McIver, in room 128, June 10th, 2014 @ 10:00 PM-midnight.

I took a walk along the bay
Some people I met along the way
Were singing songs they wrote that day.

The music filled the neighborhood
The songs they sang all sounded good
To my ears-wish I understood…

Why are they laughing at me?
Why are they talking ’bout me?
But what do I know?
What do I know?

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

Wake at 10 AM after going to bed at a reasonable hour the night before-3 AM, which shows you how absurdly relative things are when in this crowd 3 AM seems like a “reasonable hour” for bedtime. However, I’m feeling rested and go down to the lobby and end up hanging out with the lovely and talented Victoria Vox from Baltimore, Maryland. Jimm McIver is hanging out and when Liv Mueller shows up she does an impromptu commercial for the Shark vacuum cleaner. Victoria shoots her on her iPhone and it is hysterical. Afterwards everyone disperses, but Victoria goes over to the cheesy organ in the corner and starts playing Dm/F/Am/C in cyclical fashion, “round the houses” as it were. Eventually she adds F/Em/C/G and I am plunking along, playing fills on Eric McFadden’s nylon string guitar left on the couch from the night before. It isn’t long before Barrett Tasky has joined the two of us for a jam on these eight chords. Barrett and I feel like a song is emerging, but it takes awhile to convince Victoria. After sitting there for three hours cycling through those chords, Victoria and I come up with some lyrical phrases, Barrett ducks in and out of our jam every 20 minutes and asks how our progress is coming, occasionally jamming with us. Eventually I leave and Barrett and Victoria add a bridge to the song and the end result is the collaboration “Deep Mirror.” I think it is a funky little dance song with an intriguing lyric. And I like it.

Dan-O has to drive back to Madison to teach an engineering class this PM and Barrett ends up taking over his studio in his absence. After lunchtime, I sit in the diner area with Louise Goffin and we start to write a song between 3 and 4 PM called “All Of My Best Friends.” We get two verses and a bridge sketched out and then she has to take off to work on another song. Hopefully we’ll end up finishing it, because I really like what we have so far.

“All Of My Best Friends” written (incomplete) by Louise Goffin & Jon Kanis in the diner, June 11th, 2014 @ 3:00 PM-4:00 PM.

All of my best friends
We don’t have to pretend
They’ve got a helping hand to lend
And on them I always can depend

It sure is mighty fun
Hanging out with everyone
In the kitchen when the day is done
Hey, has anyone seen my son?
He’s out with his best friend
Playing his guitar again…

Dinner at 6 PM and listening party #3. This night we are in the concrete warehouse space of the Tambourine, eating pizza and hanging out because of the drizzly mist coming down. The concrete is cold but the buzz amongst us is fiery. There is another ton of great new songs this evening, including “Day Dreaming,” which is written by Jimm McIver and Louise’s youngest son Hayden Wells, and his vocal on this track is one of my favorite moments of the week-thoroughly endearing and tear-inducing. How does this kid do it? His older brother Elijah is a pretty awesome musical force as well. Wisely, the group elects to not do a fourth bottle spin, as everyone is pretty backed up with writing, recording, and rehearsing for the performances that begin… ah, tomorrow! I can’t believe it is already the fourth day of the fest! Jeezus…

After dinner, I hear James Hall performing a song called “Love Come Rescue Me” and after hearing him sing it in the upstairs hallway with Andrea Wittgens I practically beg them to let me play bass on it. I know that this is going to be a great song and that was before I learned that Eric McFadden and Liv Mueller had co-written it with James and Andrea. The next day I have James show me the chords and I write up a chart and record a demo so I can learn it. Hot damn…

I am walking through the lobby around 10:30 PM and Tomcat Joe says that they are about to go into the studio and that they need a bassist-am I available? Sure! I go grab my guitar and learn “Get On To It” in about 5 minutes. They have a chart ready to go and two run-throughs and I’m ready. We go into Steve Hamilton’s studio and cut it in three takes.

Get On To It” by Shiri and the Get-On-Its, written by Tomcat Joe & Shiri Nicole in room 4 of the Tambourine Collaboratory, June 11th, 2014. Engineered & mixed by Steve Hamilton in Sausage Studio from 11:30 PM-1:15 AM on 06.12.14. Personnel: Shiri Nicole (lead vocal), Tomcat Joe (electric guitar, vocals), Jon Kanis (electric bass, backing vocals), Clayson Benally (drums, backing vocals), Vee Sonnets (lead guitar, backing vocals).

Verse riff
[D / F / G / A] x3 [A]

Chorus riff
[D / C /G / F] x3 [A}

Intro/guitar x2

Verse with a stop

Verse / Chorus / solo (verse) with a stop / Verse / Verse

Chorus with a drum fill / Chorus / repeat Verses (solo)

Thursday, June 12th, 2014 “Door County Appreciation Night”

Wake up at 10 AM. Coffee, bagel. Rehearse with Craig Greenberg at the Tambourine Collaboratory with Dan Smrz on drums and myself on bass. Learn “I’m Coming Around,” “Death On The Liberty Line,” and “Bridge On Fire” (which is available on Steel Bridge Songs Vol. 8). We also run down “That Girl Is Wrong For You” and “I Won’t Leave It Alone” but do not end up performing those songs publicly. Two run-throughs and I am called away to record with Barrett, Sarven, Manny, and Victoria on our song “Deep Mirror” in rooms 236 & 237 with Dan-O back at the helm (he arrived back from Madison in the early AM).

“Deep Mirror” by The Lobbyists, written by Jon Kanis, Barrett Tasky & Victoria Vox in the lobby of the Holiday Music Motel and room 236, June 11th, 2014 @ 11:00 AM-3:00 PM. Engineered & mixed by Dan-O Stoffels & Barrett Tasky 1:00-3:00 PM on 06.12.14. Personnel: Carley Baer (vocals), Jon Kanis (electric bass), Sarven Manguiat (acoustic guitar), Manny Sanchez (drums), Barrett Tasky (electric guitars, keyboard), Victoria Vox (ukulele, vocals).

Intro
Here I am once again starting over for the first time…

[F / F / F / G / Am]

[Dm] Lost communica [F] tion
[Am] Somebody [C] cut the wire
[F] What a [Dm] fabrication
[C] I can’t believe I [G] lived that life for so long [Dm / F]

[Dm] Your love had me [F] blinded
[Am] Now I’m reading [C] between the lines
[F] I’m finding [Dm] reasons
[C] That I’ve been [G] wasting my time for so long [Dm]

Chorus
[Dm] Searching in the [F] mirror
[Am] ‘Cuz I’ve been [C] lied to by my own eyes
[F] Fear of going [Dm] deeper
[C] Here I am once again
[G] Starting over for the first time [rest]

[Dm] I wasn’t [F] ready

[Am] To face the fact that my heart [C] could be so wrong

[F] I took ad [Dm] vantage

[C] Of having somewhere I [G] thought I [Dm] belonged

[F] I [C] belonged [G] [G-G]

Chorus
[Dm] Searching in the [F] mirror
[Am] ‘Cuz I’ve been [C] lied to by my own eyes
[F] Fear of going [Dm] deeper
[C] Here I am once again
[G] Starting over for the first time

instrumental break
[Dm / F / Am / C]
[F / Dm / C / G]

Bridge
[F] I can [Am] feel it honey
[Dm] Change is [Am] coming
[F] I can [Am] feel it honey [C-C]

Double Chorus

Chorus
[Dm] Searching in the [F] mirror
[Am] ‘Cuz I’ve been [C] lied to by my own eyes
[F] Fear of going [Dm] deeper
[C] Here I am once again
[G] Starting over for the first time

Outro
[F / Dm / C / G]

After the session for “Deep Mirror,” all of the musicians/songwriters are scheduled to meet in the Tambourine warehouse for our fourth and last session to audition the latest recordings. My favorite song, hands down, on this day is “I Won’t Say It,” written by Susan Howe, Joanna Becker and Charles Boheme, who does an amazing James Brown impersonation, with Susan and Joanna doing a remarkable call-and-response with the hardest working white man in show business. The dreamy breakdown is unbelievably wonderful and the funk groove is relentlessly out-of-sight. Charles allegedly asked Eric McFadden at the recording session if he knew how to play funk music… having a temporary lapse of memory (it was three in the morning) of Eric’s extensive tenure in Parliament-Funkadelic. This song is an absolute crown jewel and I hope it ends up concluding the Volume 10 disc of the Steel Bridge series next year.

As the listening session winds down, people are starting to filter out to their various gigs around town and across the bridges, so I grab a quick shower, and get myself organized for our first round of public performances since the festival began five days ago. Time has come today to go out and play some of these brand new songs live!

6 PM @ Glas Coffeehouse… I catch a ride from the Holiday with Eric Leyendecker and Jay-bro Shaw. The venue is hosted by Jimm McIver & Vincent Gates. I witness some fantastic performances: James Hall & Eric McFadden doing “Call It A Trade.” Louise Goffin “New Year’s Day,” “Some Of Them Will Fool You” and “Deep Dark Night Of The Soul” (with Craig Greenberg on acoustic guitar and myself on electric bass). Craig Greenberg does three songs on the piano, accompanied by myself on electric bass for “I’m Coming Around,” “Bridge On Fire” and “Death On The Liberty Line.” After this performance I catch a ride with Geri X, Louise, and Hayden back across the bridge, dropping off L & H at Stone Harbor. Have a nice chat with Geri X in her rental car and she drops me off at Untitled Used and Rare Books. Hosted by Charles Boheme, this is another Thursday night of unbridled pleasure and killer singer-songwriters: David Cox, Kipp Wilde, JK @ 10:45: “Holiday Motel,” “Welcome Home” (with Jimm McIver on acoustic guitar and vocals), “Dweller On The Threshold,” and “Where Is Joe Strummer When You Need Him?” Have a thoroughly enjoyable time chilling outside with Sarah Marie Gilbert (aka Sugar Ransom), talking about philosophy, “The Philosopher’s Song,” and Neil Innes. Vincent Gates does a great job performing four songs, as does Tomcat Joe, including “Movin’ Backwards.”

Friday, June 13th, 2014

By midnight Susan Howe plays a four-song set, including “Blameless Creatures” and a goddess-like version of her composition “Love Your Enemies.” Liv Mueller performs “Crazy Arms,” “In The Pines,” and two originals that I mistake for unfamiliar covers-they sound so timeless already. John Hvezda performs three numbers. Lena MacDonald performs a couple of songs before Charles (on acoustic & vocals) and I (on electric bass & vocals) join her for “Like A Satellite.” Lumberjack Cash performs a few, including his classic “Woof, Woof.” Charles and Troy perform a three-song set, gearing up for “The Pale Rider” at 3 AM, just as I have to leave because at…

3:03 AM I receive a text message from Steve Smith (“Up for Gtr vox trk?”) in order to re-record my guitar track and tweeze the vocal mix for “Automatic” in the Tambourine Collaboratory. Theve encourages me to channel my inner-Malcolm Young and the vibe suits the track. The song ends up being 3:33 exactly! Shades of Billy Triplett. I drag my ass to bed around 5:30 AM with a new mix and a fresh perspective on this song that has dogged me for the past couple of days. Lots of love and many thanks to Theve for his positive vibes!

Up at 10 AM. Coffee. Then head over to Kimz Café with Barrett and have a wonderful conversation with him re: music, philosophy, and spirituality over chicken fried steak, biscuits, eggs, and apple juice. Eventually Dan-O and Steve Smith join us for a rousing conversation revolving around (surprise, surprise) audio recording. After breakfast, go back to Barrett’s room and overdub my bass track for “Deep Mirror.” The track is sounding great and needs Victoria’s lead vocal, which happens later that afternoon.

The right place at the right time… Last year at SBSF9 there was one track that “got away” from us. John Hvenza, Troy Therrien, and I wrote a Ennio Morricone/Spaghetti Western-like theme and recorded it with Steve Hamilton at the desk, but there wasn’t enough time at the end of the week to mix down the track. It was quite a production. Dark Songs 5 and Love On A Holiday 3 came and went and still no mix down. However, one of the up sides to the Mercury retrograde dynamic is that it HEAVILY supports any task that requires going back and “re-visiting” and/or “revising” something from the past that requires tweaking. Despite one or two sonic anomalies with the acoustic guitar, it was great to finally hear a rough mix of this performance and I’m grateful for the 20 minutes spent bouncing down “The Bridge Of Cruelty” with Mr. Hamilton-finishing up at 3:47 PM. Thanks Steve-O! I owe you a six-pack…

The Bridge Of Cruelty” by The Banditos, written by John Hvezda, Jon Kanis & Troy Therrien in the entrance way into the Holiday Motel, June 12th, 2013 @ 5:03 PM. Engineered by Steve Hamilton 2:30-4:00 PM on 06.15.13. Personnel: John Hvezda (acoustic guitar, lead vocal), Troy Therrien (lead guitar), Jon Kanis (electric bass, vocals), Manny Sanchez (percussion), Wally Ingram (percussion), Haydee Jeanette Irizarry (vocals), Jeneda Benally (trills), Steve Hamilton (sound effects).

First mix of “Deep Mirror” produced by Barrett Tasky at 4:05 PM.

Shower, get cleaned up and organized for the night. At 6:30 PM head over to the Third Avenue Playhouse for Construction Zone Songwriters “In The Round,” hosted by Geri X and Kim Manning, to perform songs written this week at SBSF10. The show begins at 7 PM with a brief intermission, finishing up at 10 PM. In the first half I am delighted to perform “Puente de Acero” and “Love Come Rescue Me.” I am scheduled to be on stage to play “Get On To It” in the second half of the show, but that ends up being cut from the running order at the last minute. All of the performances that I witness are fantastic. I also jump on stage to sing with the chorus for Digger’s song with Tony Brown “She’s Down.” I slip out of the theatre with about five songs to go towards the end because I am ravenous and need some energy and I’m scheduled to play a solo set at Poh’s at 10:15 PM. As I cross Third Street I meet up with Geri X and we both end up at the restaurant 136, where we sit down with Louise & Hayden. I order a cheeseburger and fries and I’m more than ready to put it away by the time it is brought to the table. My intention is to get back to the theatre before they do the final number “I Won’t Say It.” But I get back right as the traditional set closer, “Party On The Bridge,” is being performed. I jump on stage and dance and sing with everybody else until the song, and the presentation, is over.

Pack up my gear backstage (including Hayden’s drumsticks) and move on over to Poh’s where Chris Aaron has just finished performing. The place is PACKED with patrons and Chris is hot, sweet, sticky, and in need of a cocktail. Fortunately, one arrives in his hand immediately. Next up is the very pretty Katie Sculin, who does three of her originals (with her parents cheering her up front at the bar) before I take the stage and perform “Tangled Up In Blue,” “Welcome Home,” and “Where Is Joe Strummer When You Need Him?” Danielle French then takes the stage accompanied by Troy Therrien, who performs three tunes including “This Is Why I Drink.” I walk the two blocks back to the Tambourine Lounge, which is being hosted on its premier night by Andrea Wittgens. pat is running sound, and I get there just as Louise is finishing up “Deep Dark Night Of The Soul.” I then discover I left my guitar cable back at Poh’s. David Cox takes the stage for three songs and I dash back over to Poh’s, wait for Danielle’s second song to finish, grab my cable from the front of the stage, and scoot back to the Tambourine. Thank you Merc retro.

As soon as David Cox is finished I grab Ronnie’s “Goldie Hawn” B.C. Rich bass and join drummer Dan Smrz on stage with Craig Greenberg to perform “I’m Coming Around,” “Bridge On Fire” and “Death On The Liberty Line.” The set goes pretty smooth and the house is packed with an enthusiastic crowd. Drop the bass and guitar in my room after the set.

Saturday, June 14th, 2014

12:06 AM-I picked up Hayden’s drumsticks. I’ll give ‘em to you tomorrow… Have a chat and a smoke with Mr. Greenberg after our Tambourine set, cruising the Nistebox burrito stand en route to Untitled, where Liam Hall, Danielle French, Holly Olm, Anna Jo, and Carley Baer are performing. Head back over to Poh’s and Kim Manning is on stage TEARING IT UP with a crack band, including Eric on guitar, Lantz on bass, and Clayson on drums. They are on fire and prove to be a pretty hard act to follow, but Seth Raddatz manages to do so, singing a trio of profanity-laced songs, with the words f*ck, motherf*cker or simply, f*cker in almost every verse he sings. His long, blond mane hangs in his face and his tunes are dripping with attitude-bad-ass ‘tude dude. John Hvezda (+ drummer) follow him with four killer songs including his a cappella showstopper, “Mama.” Next up is Miss Meaghan Owens, who sings three songs, and is positively captivating this evening. Charmed, I’m sure. At 2:15 AM last call is announced by the bartender and Charles Boheme gets up and performs the last song of the night at Poh’s: his awe-inspiring dirge “The Pale Rider.” Charles: “That’s what they get for putting me on last.”

Poh’s is kicking everyone out and we walk down the block and go to “the book store.” Find Susan Howe at the front counter sipping Kessler’s and I make my way to the back where the infamous Globe resides. Tequila? Why, thank you very much, yes. Craig shows up and eventually Stephen Link goes to the microphone to announce: “that we should get prepared to have our faces melted!” And without further ado comes Honey Get The Gun and the place is rocking like nobody’s business. I’ve not seen bassist Gregory Roteik rock a six-string electric with a Marshall amp before, and it is a blast to see him in action. His front man/vocalist is jumping all over the place and together with the rhythm section they are indeed, melting faces. I eventually make my way back to the Holiday, cruise by the campfire in front for a bit and go crash out at the Collabratory around 5:30 AM.

Wake at 11 AM. Drink water. Hang out in the diner with several songwriters and drink coffee for a while whilst volunteers start filtering in and out. Today is the Take It To The Bridge day concert outside in the parking lot of the Holiday Music Motel. I meet John Lowe (Johnny Lowebow) and he is a cool dude. At 12:31 PM I receive a text from Susan asking me if I’d had lunch yet? I’m starving so I accept the invite and we walk over to 136 and have lunch. The chicken Caesar salad is delicious. We hang out eating and talking until 2:15 PM until Susan leaves to go shopping with Joanna Becker. On the way out we run into Craig Greenberg at the bar so I stop and have a beer with him while he eats his lunch. It is a lovely afternoon and both conversations are engaging and thought provoking.

Fortified with a full belly, Craig and I make our way over to the Holiday where the Hollands are performing on the balcony. Then WIFEE and THE HUZZBAND take the stage. Ruby James is rocking and standing up even though her foot is in a cast. She has been quite a trooper this week even though she’s confined primarily to a wheelchair to get around because of her fractured ankle from a few weeks before the festival. I get to wander around and see my good friend Roberta Chevalier briefly before the god-like Tony Brown takes the stage with GrooveSession and Barrett Tasky. OMG are they fantastic!

The afternoon is also filled with rehearsing for the show this evening at Third Avenue Playhouse when I discover that I am performing “Welcome Home” with Jimm, Coop, Dan-O and Vee and I am also on board for a performance of “Battle Of The Bridges” with Clayson, Vincent, Landon and Anna Jo, who is subbing for the absent Robin Bienemann, who unfortunately can not be in attendance. It is a great show.

First @ 7:30 PM is the Young Songwriters Showcase. Then at 8:30 PM, James Hall takes over as host and we begin our program of “selections from Volume 9 and other hits from the past, present and future featuring the Steel Bridge Construction Crew 2014.”

1) Everybody Feeling Alright (Ruby and the Huzzband)
2) Welcome Home (JK, Jimm McIver, Vee Sonetts, Coop, Dan-O)
3) Monument (Geri X, Gregory Roteik)
4) Cross Me (Victoria Vox, Carley Baer, Ellie Maybe, Sarven Manguiat)
5) Water Below (Kim, Andrea, Liv, Lantz, GrooveSession)
6) Steal Yourself (Chris Aaron, GrooveSession)
7) Battle Of The Bridges (Clayson, Vincent, Landon, Anna Jo, JK)
8) Twirl (Charlie, Susan)
9) Lemon Drop (Liv, Jim)
10) It Still Stands (Geri X, Clayson, Troy, Newski)
11) Tenderman (Digger, Eric, MJ)
12) Taking Me Home (Eric, Joanna, Walter)
13) Songbird (Geri X, pat)
14) Bridge Will Bring You Home (Carley, Meaghan, Chris Aaron, everyone)

Right before Geri X went on stage to sing “Songbird,” I was told by Digger to get ready to perform “Holiday Motel” at the end of this set, but we ending up going overtime and I was cut at the last second. Oh well. I just made sure it was the next song I performed at Kimz Gallery fifteen minutes later…

10:15 PM @ Kimz Gallery, with Buckwheat hosting. Walk over from the TAP room and perform a four-song set: “Holiday Motel” (in which I dedicate it to “Allan MacPhee, wherever he is tonight. And to Digger’s divorce lawyer!”), “Welcome Home” (with Carley Baer, who comes up and sings the background vocal, which is awesome!), “Where Is Joe Strummer When You Need Him?” and “Dweller On The Threshold.” It is great to spy amongst the audience Charles & Renee, Susan, Digger, Carley and a half-dozen other spectators. After finishing my tunes, Carley does a splendid four-song set (“are you bootlegging me?” she asks when I hit play & record on my recorder) that concludes with Kory Murphy coming up for her final song. I drop my guitar and Ronnie’s bass off at the Collabratory and I go to Butch’s with Susan, Charles & Renee. We arrive right before Walter Salas-Humara begins his set, with a noisy quartet onstage. Just before Walter starts Calab Navarro shows up saying that “someone” said that he could play at Butch’s at that exact moment. It was news to Walter but he put him on immediately and had him do a song, and Calab sounded great.

Then Walter began his set and the green, red and white strobes that sprinkle and sparkle throughout Butch’s began to do their thing. I don’t think I could endure this strobe if I was on drugs at that moment. Walter sang his heart out, sounding great on such tunes as “Penelope.” I came up to do an acoustic version of “Puente de Acero” with him singing and the EXACT moment that we began the tune Manny and Sarven walked through the front door with their Cajón and acoustic guitar and joined in with us, perfectly in time, as if this had been perfectly choreographed for a film. The timing was insanely perfect. After “Puente” we also did a group version of “Like A Satellite” and then it was time for GrooveSession to yield the stage for the next act.

Charles, Renee & I walked next door to the Red Room, and again, as if perfectly choreographed, the exact second I entered the bar Lantz Laswell was on stage with bassist Steve Smith and drummer Jamey Clark, with Lantz hitting the very first chord to our new song “Automatic.” I walked right up to the bandstand, pulled my notebook out of my backpack, and Lantz and I started singing. That performance completely washed away any lingering negativity that I had with Mr. Laswell and it was truly incredible. Dan-O was running sound and the mix was perfect and although Steve & Jamey had never played the song before they sounded incredible. I gave Lantz and Jamey a quick hug, shot Steve an exalted look of appreciation and bounded out the door towards Untitled after experiencing another perfect moment.

I caught up with Charles & Renee at Untitled and Stephen Link is telling us that he is going to close the bookstore early. It was barely midnight and he was saying that his ass was dragging from being up so late the past two nights. It’s totally understandable-this week can catch up with you in many wicked ways. John Hvezda is hosting and the vibe seemed fairly subdued. I took my leave and went over to the Door County Fire Company where “Eric McFadden and Friends” were on stage. Actually it was Cracker & Blacker, the Sons of Crack Daniels and they sounded fantastic with a band that includes Zach Vogel on drums and Gregory Roteik on bass. “Two Six Packs and a Bottle of Wine” comes pouring off the stage. Adam Macintosh is roaming around and when James Hall joins Eric they launch into “Call It A Trade.” Positively Smoking is the only appropriate word for what is going down. After another song James starts playing the lick for “Love Come Rescue Me” and I approach Gregory, who tells me that he doesn’t know this song. I tell him that I do and he hands me his bass and we suddenly transform into Megachurch. Zach Vogel on Facebook: “Probably the most epic jam I have ever had the privilege of being a part of! I love all of you…” I couldn’t agree more Mr. Vogel. Thanks to Mary Casey Martin for shooting video of this moment. I’m grateful that it exists for the ages.

So… three magical, unplanned, musical moments: Bing, Bang, Boom! First Walter and GrooveSession, then Lantz, Steve & Jamie. And then Megachurch and Eric, James, Zach, Kipp, Coop and the gals: Victoria, Joanna & Delphine. Pure, unbridled magic, all the space of an hour or so. Improvisational wonderment.

I hung around for a while longer at the Firehouse while Eric finished up his set with a few songs from Delphine’s punk rock project and I was able to chat a bit with Coop and then with Bruce and Jan Reaves. These are the good times…

Sunday, June 15th, 2014

By 2:15 AM the bartender at the Firehouse was saying that unless we were musicians packing up equipment, we needed to get the hell out of his joint. I walked by Untitled, in spite of the fact that Stephen said he was going to close early. Well… I walked into the bookstore to find it teaming with musicians and Stephen walks up to me, hugs me and exclaims “I rallied!” I guess that means we won’t be going to bed anytime soon…

I walk back to the Collabratory, grabbed my acoustic guitar and the bass and headed straight back in time for a jam session with Charles, Troy, Eric, Barrett and myself on “The Pale Rider.” Chalk that up as the four and final miraculous spontaneous jam session for the night. Also hung out in the back room with Vee, playing “Eight Days A Week” and “Alone Again Or.” By the time we are finished it is 5 AM. I stumble back to my room after a thoroughly satisfying evening/morning at 6 AM. At 10:07 AM, I receive a text from James Hall: “Brother. We got Liv, Eric, and I ready for “Love Come Rescue Me.” 10:09 AM: “I’m on my way.”

I tumble down the stairs with bass in hand and walk into Steve Hamilton’s studio. They are still getting set up for our session and I have time to slam two cups of coffee after getting four hours of sleep. Kipp Wilde climbs behind the drum kit and together with Eric and James we cut the basic track in two takes. Eric overdubs a lead guitar track that is pretty cool to witness. James sings the entire song, even though he will only feature in the second verse. Eric sings the entire song, featuring in two verses. Andrea sings the entire song, featuring in the last verse. Then Steve sets up three microphones and eight of us gather round for the background vocals on the chorus-four women and four men: Liv, Andrea, Delphine, Victoria, Eric, James, Tomcat, and myself. We triple track the voices, with a set of handclaps thrown into the third verse for good measure. After some tambourine is added the track it is deemed complete and Steve’s rough mix sounds pretty darn good. I’m so happy to be a part of this song. Spine-tingling goodness. Praise Jesus!

“Love Come Rescue Me” by Megachurch, written by James Hall, Eric McFadden, Liv Mueller & Andrea Wittgens in room 230, June 12th, 2014. Engineered & mixed by Steve Hamilton in Sausage Studio from 10:45 AM-1:00 PM on 06.15.14. Personnel: James Hall (vocals, guitar), Eric McFadden (vocals, electric guitar), Liv Mueller (vocals), Andrea Wittgens (vocals), Jon Kanis (electric bass, vocals), Kip Wilde (drums, organ), Delphine de St. Paer (vocals), Tomcat Joe (vocals), Victoria Vox (vocals).

[C] Intro

God said to Abraham
I gotta know that you’re the one
Are you ready? Are you faithful?
Are you prepared to sacrifice your son?
[F] So he built an [E] altar
And [Dm7] fell down on his knees [G] crying

[C] Love come rescue me

The angel Gabriel came to Mary
Saying little girl do you know who I am
There’s a boy child and he’s a comin’
Gonna be a savior known throughout the land
So [F] Mary carried the [E] baby
To the [Dm7] manger in [G] Bethlehem
She cried

[C] Love come rescue me x 3
[A# / A / C] Instrumental walkdown

The servant came to Simon Peter
Long before the rooster crowed
She said can you claim him as your messiah
He said, this man, I do not know
[F] As shame was [E] washing over
He could [Dm7] see the sun start to [G] rise
He cried

[C] Love come rescue me x 3
[A# / A / C] Instrumental walkdown

I was tired, I was lonely
And I could not find a friend
And the truth was I could go no further
I believe I’d reached the end
And [F] sat down on the [E] church steps
And I [Dm7] hung my head and [G] cried

[C] Love come rescue me x 3
[A# / A / C] Instrumental walkdown

By the time the session is over I need to eat something, so I go over to Poh’s for the “Poh’s lunch special”-a hamburger patty, a bratwurst patty, and some cheese on a bun with fries. For better or worse nutritionally, this tends to be part of the staple diet of being at SBSF. I run into Carley Baer and her delightful mother Terri, Danielle French, Gregory Roteik, and Melissa Gorsuch and share an enjoyable lunch with them. Danielle tells me about her new recording project that sounds super cool: Miss Scarlett and the Madmen. She’s in the process of laying down tracks for a new CD.

But before you know it, it is time to make our way over to Cherry Lanes for the “Take It To The Bridge One More Time!-A Celebration of the Life of Billy Triplett.” This performance was originally scheduled to be in the parking lot of the Holiday Music Motel, but the threat of inclement weather and severe winds chased the event inside. During the afternoon I heard great sets by Chris Aaron & Jim Schwall, Thy Dirty Deuce, Kim Manning, GrooveSession (who have worked up a great arrangement of pat’s song “Looking For Work”), and many others. At 3:25 PM I join drummer Dan Smrz and Craig Greenberg for one last performance of “Bridge On Fire” and “Death On The Liberty Line.” Craig introduces his band, announcing me with the comment: “if ever there was a Steel Bridge utility man…”

Walter, Charles and I want to do “Like A Satellite” for Billy’s tribute, but unfortunately that doesn’t come together. Neither does “Call Me At 3 AM.”

At the bar at Cherry Lanes I sit and talk to Louise for a couple of hours over Stellas and Guinness. Hayden is beating the adults at billiards and feeding quarters into arcade games. I never get tired of talking with Louise-she has become one of my favorite people over the last year. Our first hour is filled with tribulation tales of the hassles relating to her eldest son Elijah getting back to Los Angeles in time for his School of Rock gig that evening. Eventually it all worked out, but it sounded like a tremendous pile of B.S. to plow through-more Merc retro mischief I would say.

During our talk at the bar, Louise shares a Formula For Magical Thinking To Work that she and pat mAcdonald wrote together. I love it.

You have a vision and are willing to modify it according to feedback and testing in the world and apply cautious and unrelenting steady gentle pressure over time… you will shape-shift what is and manifest your vision. Patience and persistence, faith and constructive responsiveness to what is revealed over time are the essentials to steady (not fantasy) manifestation.

Kim Manning comes up with the goofy exercise of photographing various songwriters speaking into a banana. The resulting montage is pretty fun. As things wind down at Cherry Lanes, I go back to the Holiday to take a shower and find out that after we break down the studio in 236 & 237 that I’ll be able to sleep in a king-size bed off of the floor for the night in 237 (thanks mj!). But first we have to pack up all of Dan-O’s gear into his van. To that end Jay-bro, Dan-O and I are on the (anvil) case. After we get loaded up, Dan-O, Sherri Columbus, Susan, and myself head over in Dan’s Volt to Beach Harbor for the after-party celebration of SBSF10. Hang out a bunch with Craig & Susan, Charles & Renee, and Ronnie & Lantz. Love trumps all when it comes to Lantz. In fact, we perform one last rousing version of “Automatic” at the end of the evening in a group configuration that includes Eric McFadden on electric guitar. Once again, it was smokin’. My one regret is that Vee didn’t end up playing with us as he did on the recording.

Speaking of Mr. McFadden, Eric ended up playing drums with Walter, Lumberjack Cash, and myself on a last rendition of “Puento de Acero,” prompting the question “Is there anything that Eric can’t do musically? We also knock off a super-mondo version of “Like A Satellite.”

As the night wears on and the bar begins its closing hour, I decide to take up Barrett’s offer and catch a ride with him and Danielle French back to the Holiday. I really want to stay up all night and party till the sun comes up, but I know that is begging for trouble and I decide to drag my ass off to bed. The next morning when I hear about several of my favorite people talking around the campfire until the wee hours, I am thoroughly bummed, but there is no way I would be functional come Monday morning-on a day where I have to drive three and a half hours back to Madison, and perform on stage at the Badger Bowl per the wonderful avocations of Tony Menzer, an absolute prince of a man (and bassist extraordinaire!).

Monday, June 16th, 2014

Wake at 10 AM and start making the rounds to say goodbye to everyone who is still around and hasn’t left town yet. Talk to Barrett for 20 minutes as he packs his gear and the inevitable melancholy starts to seep in. Take a few pictures, hug whomever is still around or awake, clean out my room, pack my gear, take a quick shower, drink some coffee, even though we should be hitting the road already. Pat burns me a copy of his CD Lockbox Babies Vol. 1 (solo acoustic), and it sounds fantastic on the ride back to Madison, as does Susan Howe’s Lonesome Water and Victoria Vox’s Key. Dan-O, Louise, Hayden, Vee and myself go over to Poh’s for lunch before gassing up at Citgo and cruising down the 57 south.

At 6 PM we arrive at Dan-O’s house, unpack a bit and repack for the Blues Night gig at the Badger Bowl. Tony has enlisted several of us from Steel Bridge to form an ad hoc band, including Tomcat Joe, Jim Schwall, Vee Sonnets, Dan-O and myself. We end up doing a bunch of blues songs. I end up singing a few songs including The Doors “Roadhouse Blues,” my original “Think It Over,” and “Welcome Home.” Tomcat Joe does “Build A Bridge” and “Get On To It” among several numbers. Jim Schwall gets up and sings a few songs and even Vee sings a number on guitar, after mostly staying on keyboards all night. For the second set Lisa and Chris Aaron show up, with their awesome daughter Abi and Lisa’s mother, and they do a great version of “Steel Yourself.” After two full sets Tony slips a bit of money into each of our hands and that takes a bit of the financial and emotional sting out of making our various ways back home. It also didn’t hurt finding four 20-dollar bills lying on the ground. The Lord do work in mysterious ways sometimes…

After our gig at the Badger Bowl we go back to Dan-O’s house and start unwinding for the night. We are both dog-ass tired. But Mother Nature has something else in store and at 11:52 PM my phone goes off with a loud alarm saying EXTREME ALERT Tornado Warning in this area till 12:15 AM CDT. Everyone in the house is starting to make their way down into the basement, except for Alex and Dan-O who stay on the front porch watching the amazing display of thunder and lightning going on. Once we are in the basement, however, one of the windows begins to leak and now the floor is flooding with a small, but steady, stream of water. We move all the electronic equipment off the floor so that it doesn’t get wet and another warning comes over at 12:36 AM until 12:45 AM. By the time it is 1 AM I am too tired to care and I go back upstairs and collapse on the futon. Thankfully, the tornado seems to have passed. What a conclusion to an intense week!

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

I end up sleeping until past 10 AM and finally Dan-O and I go out to Dairyland for breakfast at 11 AM. One last blast of chicken fried steak and then we go over to the university area and walk around a bit, hitting Dan-O’s bank before going over to the terrace at the University of Madison and have a relaxing ice cream cone. We go back to the house, unpack the remaining gear out of the van, take a shower and pack my things and I’m curbside at the Madison airport by 3:10 PM. Boarding occurs and then we are stuck on the tarmac for over 30 minutes because of rain in Detroit. It all works out and when I hit the Detroit airport I walk straight to my plane and it takes off 10 minutes later. Halfway through my flight back to San Diego, as I’m walking to the lavatory I hear my name called and it is my friend Laura Jane Willcock! She had just spent two and half weeks back in her hometown and we ended up on the same plane back to San Diego. What are the odds? I guess about as good as finding money on the ground or being blessed with belonging to an amazing musical community and family such as the Steel Bridge Songfest.

Again, my deepest appreciation to pat mAcdonald, melaniejane, and all of the volunteers and staff that make the Steel Bridge Songfest, Dark Songs and Love On A Holiday possible every June, October and February. To all of my collaborators and friends that I was blessed to spend priceless time with this year, I can’t thank you enough for continuing to help my spirit grow and soar. Also, a very special thank you goes out to my buddy Dan-O Stoffels for hosting my arrival and departure, and for sharing so many good times together.

I love you all. See you in October 2014 for Dark Songs 6.

All the best,
mjk
xo

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