Those in the "CvS CD of the month club" will be happy to hear there is a new offering- a cvs live record! Recorded primarily over the past year in San Francisco, this full-fidelity live album is nearly an hour of the best captured moments in CvS live shows.
The Pacific Northwest was a treat for me. A week away with my pals in Seattle, and of course, the lovely Orcas Island scene. On my night off on Orcas, I had the sublime experience (again) of performing an unannounced show at Vern's, the basement bar. This time I did a blues show, making up songs in every possible groove I could come up with.
Next week I leave on a US tour with John Wesley Harding. The dates, as they come, will be updated at http://home.earthlink.net/~rslloyd/wes004.html and http://www.wesweb.net/
Also, in the time I was home, I recorded a cover of "Something's Gotten Hold of My Heart" for a Gene Pitney tribute CD on ToM'Lou Records. Expect to see that released in 2001. (try 2002!)
"Something's Gotten Hold Of My Heart" (MP3 file)
A New Kind of Bar:Now that both the London Payne and 2-cute 2-be 4-gotten CDs are done, I can look back at those few days work and reflect. Obviously, I cannot and will not stop working. I got a call from London Payne, (s)he's very interested in the project, which is exciting.
So, now, what is the NEXT poetry concept record going to be? The best idea so far is the creative missives of the incarcerated. Prison Poems! Taking music OUT of the prison to the public. Kinda like Johnny Cash in reverse, this time, bring Folsom Prison to the artist. Very 2000. Problem is, I don't wanna deal with some prisoner looking for his songwriting royalities when he gets out. "Why didn't you make me into a star, boy?" You know how long I'd last in prison? Dis long!
I need a liaison to contact the prisoners. I bet some of the teenage girl poets keep a few prison pen pals? Intriguing. If I had THREE poem records finished, I'd truly have a trilogy done, which would definitely hedge my bet with Khoi-San about who could write a "better" trilogy, although it was Khoi's bright idea to do this in the first place.
I debuted some of the "2-cute" songs at the last Cafe Du Nord "Hoot nite" (these hoot nights are great, do one before it's all over) hosted by Bart and Eric. I discovered that it's easier making people laugh than to get them to shut up. Besides, one can't really talk if laughing. The first one i went to, I ran into Posies Jon and Ken who played acoustic, plus saw some good locals performing.
Raising the Bar:Today I received a very good-looking copy of the new "Comes With A Smile" fanzine/small format magazine from the UK. A concentrated effort to say the least, the featured interviews in this issue include Vic Chestnutt, Jon Auer, Joe Pernice, Jason Falkner, Cat Power, and little ol' me-- Plus tons of reviews, since it comes out less often than a Spin or Rolling Stone. From what I've read already it's impressive. Well done, ironically in an 8" square format. Comes with a CD. I hope it gets the distribution and readers it deserves. Cheers and congrats to Matt Dornan and Co. of London. Also seen at www.cwas.co.uk
John Wesley Harding's new CD "The Confessions of St. Ace" is out this week. He's taking a band out on a full tour of the USA to promote the new record, and I'm the bass player for the tour. Rehearsals start in September, and the shows are meant to begin in late October.
The London Payne CD has raised a bit of curiosity in my fanbase, which is encouraging. However, I haven't heard a word of feedback from anyone! Guess everyone's still unpacking and catching up on sleep after the festivals.
My next artistic venture is the "Teen Girl Poetry-to-Music" project, which take the London Payne idea a step further into...well, into IT. I'm collecting poems from either currently teenaged girls or grown up ones that didn't throw out those old notebooks. Please submit anything you have that you'd like me to consider for this CD. I'm making poems into songs, that's it. I've found that the more embarrassing the poem, the easier it is for me to work with. So far the submissions have been fairly devastating, and I'm inspired.
In preparation for the IPO festival in Los Angeles, CA, and the Baypop in the SF Bay Area, I made a limited edition "London Payne" CD that I finished just days ago. It's an exciting little ball of sound that I made at the new Ordophon studio. I didn't realize I was making it as I did, it just happened while I was worrying about what new songs to make.
It's basically a poetry book I found, that I put to music. The poems are often nonsense, about nature, rife with misspellings and grammatical errors. Something about it was equally pathetic and inviting. Once I started, I knew I had to make a whole record out it. For one thing, the material made no sense outside of itself, so making it bigger gave it meaning.
After finishing "London Payne," I called the Sportsmen together for a session. Teenage Rob has hung up his middleweight sportsman title so Dave Gleason's buddy Mike Therieu of Mover and Loved Ones fame is doing the bass now. Those two also work together in Dave's band, so they are a team. Mike uses flatwound strings, on a Tele bass. We're recording together as a band in the studio, all five of us crammed into the control room, mic'd up and playing our parts live. The Joe South and Don Covay covers are working together well. Once the sound and feel have been established, it should provide me with the inspiration for the original songs to come, which I'll write bearing all this combination of sound in mind. So far I have a promising new slow boogie tune called "Ooh Mama Mama."
It's damn important to experiment at this time.
In other news, the Map of Wyoming record is done. It's been mixed. Now all that needs to be done is get the cover done I guess, then hit the road for a couple years while Dale writes the next one. Tom Heyman's CD, which I worked on as well, will come out at the same time, along with Russ Tolman's latest, all on Innerstate Records.
Khoi-San has been slaving away in the Ordophon on his new Bigwheel record. I am proud to say I've been allowed to play drums, bass, guitar, and sing. I even got to shoot down a couple tunes. However, I was NOT allowed to play wobbleboard...although it DID make it onto the London Payne CD.
Whether to make another record or to just work on everyone else's as a form of personal expression was a question as I found myself involved in multiple album projects this year. The more I work on other bands' CDs I learn more about how I want to make my CVS records. Even the Sportsmen CD was an experiment to get outside what I was doing with pop music.
But now it's time to get into the task at hand, to begin work on the 5th CVS record. I started tracking what I thought of as "demos" with Derek Ritchie on the drums, and me overdubbing the rest. As usual to my past experience, the demos were fine, good enough, or better than I'd expected. If I make another version, then it might be better in some ways, yet maybe not as good or as original sounding as the demo version.
Either way, I've been working on these new recordings since I got back from the Northwest back in April. I have a tendency to overdub a bunch of junk on the tracks and knock out each tune, cookie-cutter style, so I'm trying to hold back. Throw out the Mellotron sample disc and disallow any double tracking of parts as well.
At the same I'm figuring out my next CVS disc, I'm planning the return of the Sportsmen. The whole band is on board, and I've chosen songs by Don Covay and Joe South as principal material, and I have some CVS instrumentals set for inclusion. We will track them mid-July with guest pianist Pete Sears. He's a member of Hot Tuna, and I'm a fan of his work on the early Rod Stewart LPs. Khoi-San will be learning a lot about the Hammond organ this summer.
ps I leave with a poem I found today on the bulletin board at a laundromat in S.F.
POEM - EC
I write poems of any style.
You just say it and I
You want love, hate. sick, well
good, bad. up and down. in
or out. Red or blue. white
any black or brown.
Whatever is on you mind.
well hell yes. or heavens no.
God know whats on your mind
You could look fine. and I
could make you mine.
But I write just to be read.
til the day I'm dead.
then comes my son.
I write. he writes. We write
The Gene Clark tribute CD is out. It's on Not Lame Records, available everywhere, but mostly through their website at www.notlame.com.
I recorded a very 70s version of "From a Silver Phial". Thanks to Kurt Wolff for recommending the tune, and to Derek Ritchie, Rob Douglas, and Tom Heyman for playing on it. It was recorded at Story Road Studio, and the old Ordophon, both defunct studios. May they both rest in pieces.
Hello. I love you. May 13, 2000.
Our last trip to the Pacific Northwest (April 5-14) was so action-packed that neither Khoi-San nor I could write about it upon our return. In fairness, I must write. The drive to Seattle, WA for the first show is 800 miles. We shared the drive in Khoi's car, the Mighty Tercel.
In Seattle we played the Gordon Biersch brewery, which is situated on the 4th floor of some modern downtown mall. It had that smell of a new mall, probably fresh tile grout and linoleum glue. I felt I was being watched by security cameras the whole time. That on top of being filmed by khoi's new video camera, i was very paranoid.
Then the lovely Orcas Island, two days of kicking back relaxing, and a show at the Living Room space. The second night, we went down to one of the few bars in town and set up in the corner. I stood on top of the electric piano and sang some songs, for drinks. We were inaudible but that's because it's called unplugged. Our host Gary Bauder sang "House of the Rising Sun" and some bar patron walked us through her version of "Sweet Jane."
Khoi went for a walk, bird watching of course, one of his hobbies, and found a couple of hippy boys living off the land. They were self-described quantum chemists. They were slightly ripe (body odor) and definitely smoked a lot of weed. I met them just as we were catching the ferry, to leave the island. They laughed at everything I said, except when I was actually saying something funny. Babylon was mentioned. I forgot most of what we talked about because none of it made much sense. I would take them stargazing, or to the Burning Man event in the desert.
Back in Seattle, we played a "songwriters for the hell of it" showcase at the Showbox. The night, named by J. Wesley Harding, was also hosted by him, and featured him playing as well.
Khoi-san and I drove to Portland, stopping in Olympia to look at the punk rockers and find Vietnamese cuisine, another hobby of khoi's. On the way, we listened to the Beach Boys' "Big Sur/Beaks of Eagles/California Saga" trilogy several times, and decided that trilogies are the thing to do. Portland is lovely, and the weather was fantastic. The show was literally out of this world, as we made up several songs (including a trilogy) on the spot and no one noticed any changes. Khoi drove back to San Francisco the next morning, and I was left to wander the streets of Portland without a car.
The next night I went to the Buffalo Gap in Portland, where Brian Berg does his tuesday night hoot. He backed me on bass, and old S.F. pal Mike Coykendall from Old Joe Clarks, who now lives in P'land came down, played drums. I made up another trilogy I think. We played a few songs that we didn't know, it was fantastic as one can imagine, but you had to be there.
I had to return to Seattle for my second brewery gig. Thanks to Sean of Showbox fame for making Seattle such a busy place. I had a lovely train ride there and also a fever blister brewing, waiting to blossom the next day, when several friends asked if I'd been beaten about the face since I looked so weird.
Ever since we got back, I've been in the studio recording new things, which might be demos, masters, new CD, I don't know what they are, but I'm making more. Khoi and I have both completed and recorded our respective trilogies. I think most trilogies should have rain and thunder in them, maybe a bird call or two.
-Chris von Sneidern
The Word "Creative" is Not a Noun
Last month I was interviewed for the Wall Street Journal. Why? Because word around town was that I'm an expert on the changes and feared demise of the SF music scene. Apparently the dot.com invasion has made life in San Francisco difficult for starving artists. Those hard-working youngsters who are building the information super railroad are happy to pay twice as much as what most people expect to shell out in monthly rent.
What that has to do with music, I'm not sure. I guess if you don't work a regular job and put all your money into your music (hobby) then you can't stay in town where the rent is high. So the WSJ had this sort of "anti-dot.com" angle on the story. Some local musicians, some who play in successful cover bands, and some disgruntled (unsuccessful) original bands piped up how the high-tech geeks don't support live music. In my interview I didn't jump on the bandwagon, therefore my quotes and input weren't used in the article. Fair enough.
I've been evicted by speculators who bought my rental house with the sole intention of making a killing in the current crazy real estate market. In order to stay in SF, I moved from the gay riviera to male prositute skid row, paying the same rent. It was probably the best thing that could have happened, got me out of a rut. I don't blame nsm.com, or all the newly solvent guys writing all those heartless reviews over at listen.com. Someone's got to do that work, have at it!
If 80s night is a big hit instead of local band night, that just means that different people are going out at night. That loose-fitting pants casual corner crowd never went to my shows or anyone else's, for that matter.
When London Feels Like Home, Not a House
I had a very relaxing time in London, England the weekend of March 18. World traveller Khoi-San tells the story. Me, I was waking up at 6 am there, then crashing in the afternoon. Now I'm home, sleeping past noon, up until 4:30 am. This is great! -cvs
and now I give you my pocket piano pal...
Never Mind The Gap, Here's The Ex-Sportsmen
What can I say about London that's not already in a hundred Kinks songs? I'll give it a go. The toast? Good. The Stilton Crumble? Bad. Chocolate bars from the Underground vending machines? Good. Orange cat hair? Bad. Traditional cask ale? Good. Bangers and mash? I have no idea, and I hope never to find out.
The trip went smoothly except for several technical disasters involving the keyboard. When we found no one willing to lend us one ahead of time, we decided to haul a 50 pound Peavey over there. Unfortunately the power transformer didn't exactly work. The first night, at the Notting Hill Arts Club, a nice bloke from one of the other bands on the bill lent me his Gem D70 (or something like that) which is essentially a poor man's Casiotone. The pre-programmed drum beats made my job much easier.
The second night I had no keyboard at all so I mainly sat in the audience with the Norwegians and heckled Chris. I got a few e-mails the next day from people who watched the web cast wondering why I didn't show up on camera. Well, that's why. Sorry about not playing the requests that were e-mailed to the 12 Bar Club (that would be you, Goon) but we didn't get them until after the show.
Special thanks to Kidget and Robin for the hospitality and to Bill and Matt from Minus Zero Records for helping out with everything. If any of you are ever in London on a Friday or Saturday, make sure to visit Minus Zero. They have everything you could possibly want. It's on Blenheim Crescent across from the Travel Book Store. Watch out for good looking Englishmen carrying orange juice.
Sir Khoi-san of Battersea
As an epilogue, here are the sad stories of 3 keyboard owners in London who refused to loan me their wares. (these may or may not be true) One of them broke her arm in a skiing accident that weekend, another found out she was pregnant, and the 3rd was sent to prison. Let that be a lesson to you if I should ever come to your town.
Hello, CVS here. The question I'm asked most: "when are you playing" is answered frequently now, that we're playing again with some frequency. See the gig page, updated constantly.
The Poptopia festival is coming...but not to San Francisco! The festival goes on in Los Angeles and Portland. Unfortunately we'll have to wait for Paul Kopf's "Baypop" festival later this year. Thanks to poptopia ex-patriate Paul for his enthusiasm and hard work right to the very end, and I look forward to what happens with his festival. Music is for everyone, but Rock 'n Roll is hard work. Just ask anyone.
and now, for this month's feature:
I just got an email passed on with Khoi's triptych from our recent and first venture together to the US Pacific Northwest. I thought it completely worthy of inclusion, rather than some jaded post-tour drivel from my jaded rock 'n roll mind that I was preparing to write. Well, this time, at least.
ThankYous to Linda T, John Wesley Harding, Gary Bauder, Sean Haskins, and Barbara Mitchell for their help in making the trip a success.
And now....KHOI-SAN!! ****************************************************************************
A big Pacific Northwest grungy greeting to all. I've just returned from what I believe to be the first ever combination dog show/ rock n' roll tour. I'll try to get through this entire post without mentioning the unsavory weather.
Part 1: Half Sleepless in Foggy Tacoma.
Our first gig was Thursday night at the Hopvine Pub on Capitol Hill. We were joined onstage by John Wesley Harding for a few songs. Also in attendance was Scott McCaughey of REM and Minus Five fame. The next day CvS went to the studio with JWH to finish up his latest album and I went Seattle sightseeing with Linda T, our manager/ den mother/ good friend/ and owner of Page, the champion blue bitch. (yes, that's the proper term.) After a tour of the Pike Place Market area, which is kind of like a Fisherman's Wharf with lots more fish, we went coffee shop hopping starting with Coffee Messiah - a bizarre little establishment decorated only with hundreds of paintings of Jesus in different poses. Before we got to the next coffee shop we had already passed 3 other coffee shops, defying all laws of physics.
That night's gig was at the Showbox Theater opening for John Auer of the Posies. The Showbox used to be something of a hip jazz hangout in the 30s and 40s I think. It's a gigantic place with a capacity of around 1100. The main ballroom was curtained off and we performed on the side stage to a crowd of about 150. We decided to trash all of the previous arrangements that we had rehearsed and make it up as we went along. I think it was one of our better shows.
Part 2: Don't Pay the Ferryman.
Saturday was a night off and we spent it trying out several genres of the Seattle music scene. The first stop was an afternoon all ages punk show, then onto a rustic gay bar, followed by a disco dance party at the Showbox. This event actually filled the place. We found it frighteningly dull, although one wall was turned into a movie screen onto which were projected scenes from Star Wars interspersed with a Japanese porno. After that we went to another punk show which lasted us about 5 minutes or until CvS got beer dumped on him by the singer, whichever came first.
The Sunday gig was on Orcas Island - an hour and a half drive and another hour and a half ferry boat ride. (CvS and Linda insisted that I was 17 so they could save $1.25 on my ferry ticket.) The ferry ride was somewhat turbulent due to the unsavory weather. (oops) To bide my time I drew a sketch of CvS in the nude and proclaimed myself to be the king of the world. It turned out to be worth our while. The people were the most gracious and appreciative audience we've ever played for. Women were literally swooning and crying. Why they found "All The Young Dudes" to be a tear jerker I'll never understand.
The next day we did a bit of sightseeing on the Island with our host, Gary. I saw a free flying Bald Eagle for the first time in my life and it couldn't have been in a more beautiful setting. I imagine that the Island is probably some sort of paradise in the summer. I couldn't help but yell out "de plane, de plane" every time a little airplane went overhead. Gary also took us to the Rosaria mansion which has a pipe organ from the early 1900s that takes up an entire room. A big room. Normally no one is allowed into the room where the actual keyboard is kept and the organ is triggered by a computer. I guess we were considered to be celebrities of some sort because they let me in to play it. The song I chose to play on the giant antique organ? Van Halen's "Jump" of course.
Part 3: Aura Gone Trail.
We made it into Portland late Monday night. Joanne Hodges, Poptopia organizer and all around nice person graciously invited us to stay at her house. Our only scheduled show in Portland was an instore at Music Millennium. By doing this show we were entitled to a 30% employee discount so I took the opportunity to pick up the 1999 re-release of the classic Run DMC album "Raising Hell". The most amusing part of the instore for me was when some guy handed CvS a copy of "Rugby Train" and asked him to autograph it.
Later that night we were invited to sit in at Brian Berg's Tuesday night residency at the Buffalo Gap. As is the tradition on the last night of the tour, we picked a volunteer drummer from the audience and rocked out. We played right after a guy whose claim to fame was writing "Private Eyes" for Hall and Oates.
By the way, the press people managed to spell CvS's name wrong in every single city. Orcas Island referred to him as Chris Sneidern, while in Portland he is apparently known as C. Von Sneiderman.
I'll have pictures up soon.