Thursday, November 11, 2010

Let Me Redirect Your Attention

There is really no excuse for my massive slacking with this blog. But thankfully it's because I've been super busy! For the last 6 months or so was gathering cobwebs... but let me now point you that direction as the best place to keep up with me. It's going to have a blog on the front page that I will maintain, while the rest of the site was beautifully designed by my brother Brandon Tutmarc.

Go check it out, folks!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Coming Up

September is shaping up to be the busiest musical month since moving to Nashville. I'm very excited to be hosting two Tuesdays in September at the 5 Spot. Local songwriter, and friend, Derek Hoke started a weekly series at the 5 Spot called "$2 Tuesdays", where he brings together 3 or 4 bands to play short sets, introduces them to the crowd sometimes collaborating with the bands, and then plays a short set of his own. It's a big undertaking to book a new show every week, trying to keep the bills exclusively "Nashville", so he's handed over a couple weeks to me. At this point, it looks like I'll be hosting every other week, alternating with Derek.

In addition to the 5 Spot hosting, on Sept 1st we're playing a show at FooBAR.too which is put on by Blood on the Bluegrass, featuring Hoots & Hellmouth (from Philadelphia), Barnstormers (Alabama), and local Nashvillians Wess Floyd & the Daisycutters.

In late September, my whole family (mom, dad, brother, and sister) are coming out to Nashville for the first time! My brother, Brandon, was with me the first time I came out here in June of 2008 for a Southern tour with the Traveling Mercies, but no one else in the family has ever been here before. I'm looking forward to showing them around a bit, and hopefully squeezing in a day or two in Memphis.

They should be here in time to see me playing at Douglas Corner on Sept 22nd, with Derek Hoke and the Clones sharing the bill.

Finally, in recording news. On Saturday I layed down vocals for When You Found Me, So Hard to Make an Easy Getaway, and Southern Pines. Being that I had already recorded I Know I Should Know Better (since I did the guitar and vocals live), that leaves only What is this Love? left. Starting with When You Found Me might have been a bad idea, as I sing that song very gravely, and it left my voice a little raw for the others - but I trust that Nathan Thomas can either make something good out of it, or that he'll be honest and tell me I need to re-record them. Hopefully, we can find some time in the next week to get What is this Love? finished then we can start mixing. When we first started these sessions, our goal was merely to have polished demos to pass off to labels, producers, managers, etc... but with how everything is turning out, it's gonna be a real challenge to not release this stuff in some form. I'm looking into various ways of getting this music out there, whether its in video form, vinyl, or a limited-time download. Let me know if you have any ideas, OK?

Until next time, stay classy.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

And now a message from the Justice League of Americana

Today marked my debut performance with a full band at Robert's Western World. Featuring Zach Shedd, Grant "Big Smokey" Johnson, and Steve Latanation - I've dubbed the band, The Justice League of Americana.

Although we had never played together before as a group, Steve, Zach and Grant had all played together supporting different artists over the years so there was a natural chemistry.

Here's a few clips that capture the raw energy of the set.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Waking Up On Stage

Just woke up from a long nap. After being out way too late last night, I woke up early again to play a solo shift at Robert's Western World. There was a decent flow of people that came through the door, but they were a generous bunch so they made it worth it. In many ways it was a warm up for my first full band show at Robert's tomorrow morning. I have Zach Shedd (while not on the road with HANK III fills in with many bands around Lower Broadway) on bass, Grant "Big Smokey" Johnson (a fellow Seattle native, who plays with Derek Hoke and has been a player on Lower Broadway for years now) on guitar, and Steve Latanation (who played with Orange County punk band Agent Orange before relocating to Nashville, he also plays with Derek Hoke and is a mainstay on Lower Broadway as well) on drums.

Here's what I played to the best of my memory (with clips from past shows):

1 I Heard that Lonesome Whistle Blow (Hank Williams)
2 Your Cheatin' Heart (Hank Williams)
3 I Can't Help It (Hank Williams)
4 Lost Highway (Hank Williams)
5 Ramblin' Man (Hank Williams)
6 Singing the Blues (Marty Robbins)
7 Six Days on the Road (Dave Dudley, covered by everyone)
8 He'll Have to Go (Jim Reeves)
9 I Really Don't Want to Know (Eddy Arnold)
10 I'll Cry Instead (The Beatles)
11 In the Pines (Leadbelly, via Nirvana)
12 I Gotta Get Drunk (Willie Nelson)
13 Early Morning Rain (Gordon Lightfoot)
14 Country Heroes (Hank III)
15 Big Boss Man (Jimmy Reed)
16 House of the Rising Sun (Traditional, via The Animals)
17 Little Sadie (Traditional, via Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Mark Lanegan)
18 I'll Be Your Baby Tonight (Bob Dylan)
19 You Ain't Going Nowhere (Bob Dylan, The Byrds)
20 Meet Me in the Morning (Bob Dylan)
21 Cryin' Time (Buck Owens)
22 Waiting Around to Die (Townes Van Zandt)
23 Black Widow Blues (Townes Van Zandt)
24 Man of Constant Sorrow (Traditional, via O Brother Where Art Thou?)
25 Sea of Heartbreak (Don Gibson)
26 I Can't Stop Loving You (Don Gibson)
27 Oh Lonesome Me (Don Gibson)
28 Love Me (Elvis Presley)
29 That's All Right Mama (Elvis Presley)
30 Little Sister (Elvis Presley)
31 I'm Movin' On (Hank Snow)

Being that I was playing solo, I didn't have the luxury of being able to extend songs with guitar solo, etc, so even with 31 songs I still needed to sneak in a few of my songs to pad out the 3+ hour set...

My songs/songs I've recorded:
32 Fair Warning (from Hey Lazarus!)
33 Since You've Gone (from Hey Lazarus!)
34 I Know I Should Know Better (I'm Gonna Live the Life)
35 Let Me Down Easy (Shouting at a Silent Sky)
36 Idle Hands (Shouting at a Silent Sky)

So there you have it. I will let you know how tomorrow goes. Hoping to get some video, or at least photos to document this historic event!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Living on Borrowed Blues

Last Friday I was awoken at 11am with my phone ringing and ringing. I had worked til 3am the night before, and probably didn't drift off to sleep til about 5am, so I was not about answer the phone for anyone. Well, almost anyone. When I saw it was Jesse Lee Jones, owner of Robert's and leader of the infamous Brazilbilly, I cleared my throat and mustered a "Hey Jesse, what's going on?" He was in a panic, the artist that normally played the Friday morning shift wasn't available and he needed someone. While I had recently been invited up on the Robert's stage to sing a couple songs with The Silver Threads, I really wasn't prepared. But I told him I'd be right down. I quickly woke up Meagan, printed out the lyrics to 4 or 5 old country tunes, ate a banana and off we went.

As many of you know, I love old country and blues music, but I really hadn't rehearsed for a two hour set of traditional country music. Once I got down there, I grabbed some coffee and some Red Bull and went at it. There was a surprisingly good crowd for an early afternoon in Lower Broadway. While in the past I felt like I really needed a band to get my point across, as the set went on I felt more comfortable with just a guitar and microphone. The two hours really flew by, and I got a better reaction on some of my originals than on the covers (probably because I knew my songs better).

Here's the tunes I played , with links to video clips...

1 Sea of Heartbreak (Don Gibson)
2 Can’t Get You Off My Mind (Hank Williams)
3 I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight (Bob Dylan)
4 Love Me (Elvis)
5 That’s All Right (Elvis)
6 Baby What You Want Me to Do (Jimmy Reed)
7 Little Sister (Elvis)
8 Lost Highway (Hank Williams)
9 Oh Lonesome Me (Don Gibson) *we did this on the first Mercies album*
10 Your Cheatin’ Heart (Hank Williams)
11 Country Heroes (Hank III) - by request!
12 Ramblin’ Man (Hank Williams)
13 Black Widow Blues (Townes Van Zandt)

originals/songs I've recorded:
14 Fair Warning
15 Honey I Choose You
16 Since You’ve Gone
17 Ain’t No Grave (traditional)
18 Angel Face (Bonnie Guitar)
19 Next Best Thing
20 Across the River
21 Let Me Down Easy (Mark Pickerel)
22 Mortality Blues
23 Death & Texas
24 Idle Hands
25 Never Turnin’ Back

After my set, I gathered my tips (!!), and Jesse told me he'd need me again next Friday. As far as I know, the normal Friday morning performer will be back the following week, but I am looking forward to expanding my repertoire for this coming Friday. I'm getting Travis Terrell to join me on the keys. One of the things I was really missing at that first show was solos. Having Travis there will allow the songs to breath more, and I don't have to sing verse after verse. I'm not sure where this opportunity will lead, but it's cool to be on the other side of the glass at Robert's for a change.

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Brief Intermission

It's been a while since I've written on here. And not for a lack of things to talk about. There's been a lot going on. Let me give you some of the highlights of the last month or so.

Nathan Thomas, my bassist and main go-to-guy, and I have started pre-production on what will eventually turn into the next album. Since moving to Nashville (and a little before) I started demoing ideas on GarageBand. From simple acoustic sketches, to full-blown homemade productions, I've gathered around 20 songs now. Nathan and I have choosen 5 to focus our attention on.

* So Hard to Find an Easy Getaway - the oldest song of the bunch. I originally wrote this song in the Spring of 2008 while visiting my cousin David in Texas. We briefly played it during the last days of the Traveling Mercies. It didn't seem to fit the mood of "Shouting At A Silent Sky", but I kept the song around. Recently, I've revised the lyrics a bit, and we've brought it back into the last few shows. The song has a Chuck Berry style narrative about a troubled flight from Seattle to Texas, and has a Stones-eque loose rock feel. "Well, Austin might as well have been Boston / San Marcos might as well have been Spain / I left the clouds hoping for sunshine / but the dust bowl was flooded with rain / Yeah, the world is so strange it's so hard to make an easy getaway."

* Southern Pines - I started writing this song in the Fall of 2009, and it's gone thru quite an metamorphosis over the last few months. There's a time-change on the chorus, which I kept going back and forth on, but I think it'll be an interesting record when it's done. Like, "Easy Getaway", this song has a storyline narrative, but there are more layers to the lyrics. I originally wrote it as a sort of jazzy tin pan alley tune, then it became more like an Irish Folk song, and now it's going more riff rock. So we'll see where this one ends up. "You took me in under your spell / You clipped my wings and I could tell / Your ivory tower was now my prison cell / I plead my case and I rebelled / Your love letters were all misspelled / And I escaped without a word of farewell."

* What is this Love? - This song burst forth over the Summer of '09, and I've hardly changed a thing since. It's got an almost Latin groove to it, and it feels really fresh to me. Songs about love can be the most challenging since there have been so many great songs (and plenty of crappy ones) written about the subject over the years, but this one comes at it from a unique angle. It's more about the mystery of love, with contrasting sensual and spiritual themes. "What is this love that is spreading / What is this love like a virus / My heart pumps it to my brain and I keep waking up everyday / Just when I think I've had enough / What is this love?"

* When You Found Me - This was the first song I wrote as I settled into Nashville. Again, it's always nice when a love song presents itself and it's not a complete throwaway. The song revolves around a repeating blues riff, with a hypnotic groove, during the bridge it switches between minor and major in a way that hopefully wakes the listener from their trance. instead of focusing on how great life is with this new lover, it focuses more on how bad life was before. "When you found me I didn't believe in love / I'd been burned and I'd been bluffed / Wasn't a woman I could trust / I was blind I could not see / When you found me."

* I Know I Should Know Better - It's ironic that this is the title of the first song I'm re-recording. I originally wrote and recorded the song for the Mercies' first album back in 2007. But over the last couple years, I've felt like I could re-approach this song and breathe new life into it. It's always been an important song to me, and where we are taking it now should be a whole new experience for the listener.

So these are the first batch of songs Nathan and I will be focusing on once he gets back from his Honeymoon.

Honeymoon? On Saturday, June 26th, Nathan married his long-time sweetheart Leslie at a beautiful ceremony in Dickson, TN. They are now off to Mexico for the week. And the rest of the band has been busy as well - over the last month Aaron Tosti has been sharing his drum talents with Run Kid Run, The Almost, and will soon be on the road as a drum-tech for Underoath. Eric Newcomer has been on the road playing bass with House of Heroes, and our most recent addition to the band, the amazingly telented keyboardist Travis Terrell has been driving a bus for Peter Frampton. Yes, Peter Frampton!

So all that to say, progress is gonna be a little slower than I'd like, but hopefully we can find a day or two when each of these great players can add their magic to these tracks. The goal from there is to get these pre-production demos into the hands of people that might be able to take the project to the NEXT level. Whether it's a producer, a label, or whatever - we should have some good tracks to pass around.

So what have I been doing with my downtime? Well, I'm still working three days a week at the best honky tonk on Lower Broadway - Robert's Western World. And lately I've re-discovered my love of painting. I've started a series of "Heroes", and I've almost completed my first two - Hank Williams and Elvis Presley. For Nathan's wedding gift I painted him a portrait of Prince (who is his favorite artist).

As always there is more to talk about, but I've said enough already.

But you'll be hearing from me soon, I promise.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Basement Tapes

Everything seemed to fall into place at last Monday's Basement performance. No longer does this feel like "Shane with his Nashville pick-up band" - we ARE a band. After the show a few people asked me if we all moved out here from Seattle, assuming we'd played together for years. Aaron Tosti, Nathan Thomas and latest addition, Eric Newcomer have really taken these songs to new places. They are not doing note-for-note recreations of the recordings, I wouldn't want them to anyways, they are making these songs their own - and we're forging a new sound.

Super-fan, Meagan Mays captured the energy and electricity of the night with these video clips...

"So Hard to Make an Easy Getaway", which I've been kicking around for a couple years, made it's full band debut, and it's fast becoming the "feel good" pinnacle of the set.

After our impromptu cover of The Beatles' White Album rocker at last month's 64-Ten show - we've refined it and now it's one of our favorites to play.

"Ain't No Grave" is one of those songs that relies almost completely on the groove, and Aaron (drums) and Nathan (bass) reached a new level with this performance. It's also liberating to have Eric (guitar) filling in some licks so I can focus on my preacher-man delivery. I can't wait to get this band together again.

Next up... May 26th at the Family Wash...