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December, 2011:

Song of the Week: Voodoo Lounge

Hey there!

I’m going to try to share as many new songs as I can, over the next month or two. These are songs I’m thinking about putting onto my next CD, in draft form. The mix is my “homebrew” version, and will likely be very different when the album comes out next summer. It’ll almost certainly be better there. But it’s a chance for you to start to get to know the songs themselves, and a chance for me to hear what *you* like.

Today’s offering is something I call “Voodoo Lounge.” It’s something I wrote to fill a hole in my catalog – I don’t have a good New Orleans blues number. I expect it’ll get the whole “smoky blues” treatment by Kevin.

The story behind the song is…well, I made it up. πŸ™‚ That said, anyone out there who actually knows something about Voudou isn’t likely to get *too* annoyed at me, because I tried to get enough of the details right.

I’d like to know what you think of it, so please leave comments or send me an email.

Here’s the song: Voodoo Lounge

I hope you like it.

And Happy New Years!


Vacation Travelogue – My Pictures

In which I post a few pictures and talk about a few of the memorable moments of my trip last month to the Keys. Note that these are all *my* pictures, and none of them have me in them. I may do another post with other people’s pics later, and I’ll edit and link it in here.

Let’s start up at the top of the Keys:

I saw a manatee!

Florida is home to the endangered manatees. After nine years, I finally saw my first manatee while in Key Largo. πŸ™‚ I’d been sitting at the bar when I saw folks gathered around the boat dock and heard some commotion. I figured I should check that out, and sure enough, we had a manatee stopping by to listen to the music! πŸ™‚

(Note: You’re not supposed to feed manatees *or* give them water, like was happening here. I wasn’t doing any of the above; I was just taking pictures. πŸ™‚ )

The folks throwing the Pit Stop Party in Key Largo have a nice flat boat that they took folks out on. I got to go on the Tuesday night sunset cruise:

Sunset in Key Largo

And I got to stay in a beautiful house on the Atlantic side, with this view in the mornings:

Key Largo morning

From here, I went down to Key West, and saw more cool scenery at Southernmost on the Beach:

Southernmost - beautiful beach!

One of the big events of the weekend was the Street Fest on Friday. Buffett showed up, after I’d retreated from street level to friends’ rooms at the La Concha. Here’s a pic showing some of the crowd near the stage, which doesn’t do it justice:

Ground-level view at the Street Fest, pre-Buffett

If you look at the hotel behind the stage, I ended up on a balcony above the tile you see, on the second floor.

I sing about sunsets at Mallory Square. Well, Saturday night I couldn’t see the sun set, but I went down there anyway, and had a drink by the water next door at the Westin:

Sitting at water's edge near Mallory Square

It was windy, with a front coming in. And getting chilly. The sunset boats were seriously reefed:

Reef them sails before we capsize!

The sunset cruises are fun. You get live music and free drinks included in the price. The only thing not guaranteed is a view of the sun setting.

One of the most wonderful views I found of the water was…wait for it…at the Key West McDonald’s on Roosevelt Blvd. I’m not making this up:

Because I deserved a break.

I believe this qualifies as the cheapest Gulf view dining in the Keys.

I’ve felt very much connected with my ocean- and Gulf-view pictures today. There are other pics of various music-related stuff; I’ll try to put those in another post sometime. I wanted to share the sheer beauty down there, the stuff that gets right into my gut and unknots it and puts a shit-eating grin on my face.

Yeah. That stuff. I love me some Florida Keys.

New Song – Looking at You


Today I begin a new series of occasional posts about my upcoming album. I don’t have a title for it yet, but Kevin (my producer) and I have started work on it, I’ve written and polished most of the songs for it already, and as I turn out “scratch” demos for him to work on, I want to share a few of those.

First, a word about “scratch” demos: A scratch demo is a preliminary version of a song used in this case to give my producer something to build the production of the song around. Sometimes it’s a fair idea of what the final song might sound like; sometimes not. It’s like the first draft of a novel, or the pre-colored version of a comic panel.

I’m currently making scratch demos in GarageBand; I used to make them in ProTools. I might do a post about that process, as it might be interesting or enlightening to someone at some point. But that’s neither here nor there right now.

Today’s demo is of a song titled “Looking at You.” It consists of one guitar, one vocal, and canned Apple Loop drums. Other than a little reverb and EQ (equalization/tone shaping), not much has been done to it.

The story behind this song is interesting. As many of my friends know, I’m a big fan of the movie Casablanca. I can quote large sections of it, and occasionally annoy whomever I’m watching the movie with. πŸ™‚ It occurred to me a couple of months ago that the stories of Casablanca and “Margaritaville” have a lot in common: Narrator loses girl; narrator goes someplace tropical and starts drinking heavily. The settings, subplots, and outcomes differ significantly, but both seem to start from roughly the same place.

I thought, “Well, what if Rick got to Casablanca and discovered it was perfect for him? What if he met a new lady, made lots of friends, and got over that faithless Ilsa? What if, when she shows up on scene with her husband, he tells her, “Y’know kid…you dumping me in the Paris train station was the best thing that ever happened to me.” What would that look like? Would it make an interesting song?

I thought it would. So I started work on a song that I call a cross between “Margaritaville” and “How Do You Like Me Now?” And the title, and a few of the lyrics, pay tribute to Casablanca, as they should.

I’m hoping that the final version will end with a steel pan playing a few notes from “As Time Goes By.”

Check it out here: Looking At You

Love it? Hate it? Let me know what you think.