My friend Eratostenes shot another video of me playing one of my favorite songs at the beautiful Fremont Abbey the other day. Check it out via Youtube:
Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
Hello friends -
I am excited to announce that I will be touring the West Coast this summer, along with Lotte Kestner (solo project of Anna-Lynne Williams, singer of the band Trespassers William and Ormonde, among other things). Please check the Facebook Invite for more details and RSVP info.
& Yet’s music contains an element of mystery or perhaps mysticism that is rare to find in Northwest folk and indie music.
I can only describe it as ethereal, or reminiscent of something old and true. I’ve never been able to quite put my finger on what it is that is so different and exciting about these songs.
What seems to be an eastern-european influence on the chord voicings and progressions, and the swelling dynamics and perfectly calibrated time signature changes, could lend to comparisons with artists like Beirut or Andrew Bird, though Dane’s songs don’t contain the boastfulness of the former or the potent whimsy of the latter. What you get is a masterfully composed, sincerely contemplative, deeply harmonic journey in these songs.
Dane advised me that the full length record is about 3/4 completed. You can check out a single, released last year here to get an idea of the style you might expect on this much anticipated album release:
This is the first in what will hopefully be a recurring category on this blog, where I will feature artist friends that I dig, and hopefully get you to check them out and dig them too.
Meet James Kelly Pitts, a fellow northwest songwriter. He played bass in a way-too-short-lived, amazing indie rock band in my hometown of Spokane, WA called Tokio Weigh Station; they unfortunately broke up even before the above-linked album was ever properly released. Now he is making his own great records here in Seattle.
The first time I met James (Jimmy) was back in my pre-sobriety days, I ended up at his house in Browne’s Addition, drinking all night, making a fool of myself and blabbing about music with him and Will (singer of Tokio). Fast forward a few years and Jimmy and I are both living in Seattle, I bumped into him on Capitol Hill a few times, and we played a little show together at the Cafe Racer. A mutual friend of ours, Brandon Jensen (played with Viper Creek Club and Shelby Earl), tipped me off that he heard Jimmy’s record and that it was maybe gonna be the next big thing out of Seattle. I bought it through BandCamp on his recommendation, but didn’t give it a good listen until I was on the subway in NYC by myself one night a few months later. When the outro of Track #4 “If you run I’ll run” hit, I knew I was way into this record, which over the last 2 years has repeatedly been a reactivating sleeper cell in my brain–months will go by and one of the subtle hooks will pop in my mind, I’ll put it on and realize yet again that this probably really should have been one the next big things out of Seattle.
I’ve had my ears pressed firmly to the ground in the northwest for several years now, and I can honestly say I haven’t heard many records that I’ve truly enjoyed as much as this one, and of the ones I have enjoyed, this is by far the most under-rated. I hope you will check it out and buy it off BandCamp. You’ll listen to it now, put it back on in 6 months, and again in 2 years, and be glad you did.
James Kelly Pitts on Facebook
A little under a year ago, I rediscovered my love of reading real books and I’ve been on a binge. Searching for knowledge, inspiration and fun. I know I am forgetting some, but here are some that I have read lately:
East Of Eden by John Steinbeck (novel)
This masterful novel seems to be considered Steinbeck’s greatest work (and his longest novel). I had never read any of his books before and I couldn’t put this one down. Takes a while to get going, introducing a few different families before they intersect. When I was carrying this (thick) book around with me over the course of a month, I had no less than 15 people stop me and tell me what a great book it is. They were right. Read it.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (novel)
A heart-wrenching modern masterpiece telling the story of a young boy who’s father died in the 9/11 attacks, searching New York City for the lock that fits a key his father left behind, and the backstory of several family members. Gets going fast, is packed full of gorgeously devastating moments. If you are looking for something to tug at your heart strings this is the book for you. I’ve never read a book like this–truly one of a kind.
The 33 1/3 book series:
These little books are awesome. Each book is about just 1 album. I read the book about Elliott Smith’s “XO”, Nick Drake’s “Pink Moon” and my favorite so far is the Portishead “Dummy” one. Check out a full list of these little books at http://333sound.com/
god is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens (nonfiction, polemic)
As you can tell by the title.. this book is not for everyone. If you are not familiar with Hitchens- he was a very famous and respected journalist and author for many years. He specialized in being a contrarian, and became one of the most outspoken of the “new atheists”, and debated more ferociously against religion and faith than probably anyone in history (I highly recommend watching his debates with various religious leaders on YouTube, fascinating stuff). He held reason and science in the highest regard, and attempts to show that religion has done no good for humanity and needs to be done away with. Hitchens died of cancer a little over a year ago and is missed by many in the journalism, literature and atheist communities.
Where the Conflict Really Lies by Alvin Plantinga (philosophy)
Probably the most challenging to finish book I have ever read, Plantinga is the head philosophy of religion professor at Notre Dame. He is a highly respected author of Christian apologetics. In this book he attempts to convince the reader that there is no real conflict between science and religious faith, and that believing in God is far more reasonable than not believing in God. He goes as far as to try to show that naturalism/atheism is actually in conflict with scientific reasoning. I can’t imagine very many people who aren’t aspiring philosophers of religion reading this book, but if you are an atheist or agnostic looking for a challenge, a believer looking to reinforce your beliefs or add to your arsenal, or if you just want to think really hard about whether there is a thinking, knowing, loving God, then you can try to read this book. Good luck!
Things the Grandchildren Should Know by Mark Oliver Everett (autobiography)
A short autobiography written by the singer/founder of the band “EELS”. He has had a very interesting life full of tragedy, fame and shame. A very fun read, highly recommend it to anyone, regardless of if you are a fan or not. Eels have had some great songs, and took a lot of musical directions. Check it out.
Mortality by Christopher Hitchens (nonfiction essays)
This short book of essays was written by Hitchens in the final days of his life as he was dying of cancer. Quite a serious topic, and very interesting to hear someone who is so against the idea of an afterlife come to grips with death, while still managing to have a sense of humor and serious wit.
Dove by Robert Lee Graham (true story)
Amazing true story of a 16 year old kid who sailed around the entire world (he was 21 when he got home). His trip was very well documented (by National Geographic etc). Fascinating battles with weather, loneliness, people, and more. Of course a good love story finds it’s way in as well.
Free Will by Sam Harris
Another very outspoken leader of the new atheist movement, a Neuroscientist and public intellectual does his best to convince us that we are not *nearly* as “free” as we think we are. Harris seems to push “hard determinism”, a philosophical idea that has been around for a long time, but that most of us seem to not think very much about. How free are you to do as you wish? This tiny book has pissed off a lot of people. I recommend it if you want a little intellectual challenge.
The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck (novel)
Another masterpiece by Steinbeck–considered one of the most essential American classics. Tells the story of a struggling family’s move from Oklahoma to California during the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. Great characters.. tedious dialog. Really a fantastic book, though I didn’t fully appreciate it until after I finished it.
Siddartha by Herman Hesse (fiction, spiritual)
Very nice book about the search for truth, peace and beauty in the world. One of the most popular books of all time. Highly recommend this to anyone looking for a good solid “zen” read.
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle (self-help, spiritual)
Eckhart Tolle is the Oprah Book club figurehead of spiritual peace, literally. He has sold a bazillion copies of this book– it’s a new age self help book that basically tells you to slow down, be aware, and realize that the only thing you truly ever have is the present moment. Old advice is sometimes the best advice, and even though there may not be anything truly revolutionary about the wisdom in this book, it is wisdom nonetheless and I would recommend this book to anyone. We can never be reminded enough that we need to experience and enjoy the present moment.
A Universe From Nothing – Lawrence Krauss (science)
Lawrence Krauss is an astrophysicist and head of the “Origins Project” at ASU, and an outspoken critic of religion. I’m sure you’ve all heard the phrase “you can’t get something from nothing”, Krauss disagrees. He believes that Universe could have, and most likely did, spontaneously arise from literally nothing, that the net weight and energy of the Universe is actually zero, and that this is the only way it would all make sense anyways. If you are into space and philosophy, and don’t mind some pretty technical stuff (I did not understand it all), this is a cool book.
Going Clear by Lawrence Wright (nonfiction, critical)
This book is a long-form, investigative, journalistic report on the history of Scientology. Lawrence is very critical of L. Ron Hubbard, David Miscavige, and other leaders of this so-called church. His goal seems quite clear- he wants everyone to know that Scientology is a huge scam that has victimized tens of thousands of gullible people, and that the people who lead it, including celebrities like Tom Cruise and John Travolta- are nuts. I knew Scientology was a little crazy, but I had no idea *how* crazy. Very interesting.
Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robins (novel, funny)
A few different people suggested Tom Robbins to me around the same time so I had to check him out. This book was a lot of fun, I imagine his others are similar. This book tells a funny, fantastical story, weaving together several groups of characters from different periods in history, exploring themes of eternity, aging, love, sex, God(s), and more. Delightfully inappropriate. When I feel like I want to read something truly for *fun* again, I’m going to pick up another Tom Robins book.
What have you been reading?
The new record is now available for listening and purchasing. At the moment, the only place to get it (Download or physical C.D.) is through my BandCamp Website. It’s very easy to listen and buy over there, check it out.
This album was recorded over march/april/may 2013, mostly in the beautiful Columbia City Theater in south Seattle. A few bits were recorded at home and brought in for mixing. I had the amazing experience of working with a string quartet on four of the tracks, and this was my first attempt at doing string arrangments. My friend Andrew Joslyn who is head of Passenger String Quartet helped me make this dream come true.
As the summer comes in I working on getting a west-coast tour set up with Lotte Kestner. Stay tuned for late-july and early-august west coast dates. Hope to see you out there.
I’m excited to be playing in Spokane for the first time in quite a while, on Feb 15th at the Bing Crosby Theater. My buddies Pickwick will be headlining the show, and Sera Cahoone is playing also. This show is a benefit show for my good friends Karli and Caleb Ingersoll, as they are raising funds to open a brand new all-ages venue in Spokane called The Bartlett
Hey guys! I just checked into the hotel in Denton, TX where we play tonight.
I can’t believe so many cities have gone by without a blog post. Heres the skinny:
San Diego @ Casbah : Fun but Grimey spot, reminiscent of El Corazon in Seattle. Decently attended, maybe 125 people? The most memorable thing about the show for me was that people were being really loud, and I asked them super nice to be quiet and it WORKED. They were totally cool after that. CRAZY.
That night was super fun because Curran and I stayed with my friend Vanessa who I hadn’t seen in a long time, at her new place where her and some Coachella people who were STILL hanging around were all crashing! She left her keys somewhere and these guys had to make a human ladder to break into the window of her place. Other shenanigans ensued, and a dank breakfast @ a place called Mission was bomb dot com.
Phoenix @ Rhythm Room : Another sorta grimey place, but this was my favorite show of the tour so far, at least performance wise. The sound was surprisingly great, and I felt super comfortable that night bantering with the audience. People really listened well here. A drunk guy pretty much ruined Rocky’s set by singing along horribly and loudly despite Rocky asking him nicely to stop several times, they eventually threw him out but not before most of the show was over.
Albuquerque @ Low Spirits : Aptly named place for this stop on the tour. Attendance was super low. Curran and I were thinking a lot about Breaking Bad while here. I saw one old friend from high school but that was about it. OK Set from us. Curran had to leave and fly to Seattle to play a wedding and so I am playin the next 3 shows alone.
LONG DRIVE ALL DAY BY MYSELF AND STAYED IN A CRAPPY COW TOWN CALLED SWEETWATER TEXAS (in an overpriced hotel room that was huge).
Austin, TX @ Lambert’s: I had really looked forward to seeing Austin, but I honestly did not have a very good time there. The traffic was horrible, I had a hard time finding things and drove around stressed out a bunch. A lot of people came to the show, but the venue was a really bad place for me to play, especially solo. Tons of nice people were trying to listen to me, but the roar of the other bar patrons not there to see the show totally overpowered me and I didn’t deal with it well. I cowered behind my guitar and just played until it was over. I hope my next trip to Austin is better ! Sorry to anyone who had to see me and my bad attitude. Some people were nice and said nice things and bought my album which actually surprised me.
So here I am in Denton TX, and I cruised by the place we are playing tonight.. it looks pretty crazy, its like a band rehearsal spot with a bar/stage, This is some seriously gritty sh*t, its like a shack in the middle of a field. I hope I don’t get beat up here!
Having so much fun seeing the country.
ALSO , some super generous people who have seen me on tour are helping make the kickstarter a success. I am talking about a $300 and $500 donation from people who saw me play on tour. That is so rad! I thought that I would get more small donations on the tour, but I am getting fewer, larger ones from some seriously awesome folks.
Surprisingly little time to blog about stuff from the road! Having a great time though. We just played our 4th show of the tour. All of the shows have been great so far.
The drive from Portland to SF was a long one. Check the pic above of Gertrude, the mannequin in the bathtub of a rest stop near Redding, CA (so creepy, ask me about it sometime). It was quite a trip to play at Bottom of the Hill in S.F., for two reasons, the last time I was there was basically in a past life, and because SO many friends and family came out. That was awesome. I think I had over 20 people come out to see us, even a few fans from youtube. The crowd was a bit chatty there, but we still got a good response overall and it was great to (sortof) catchup with people. Curran has been singing “White Daisy Passing” with Rocky each night, which is RAD! They are talking about working out a few more songs.
After S.F. Curran and I got a cheap hotel in Oakland and crashed super hard, but not before stopping by my best friend’s club night where Flying Lotus was playing and there were over 1600 people there.
The drive to LA was sunny and full of rolling hills, and cows. We went straight to to the venue for load-in and before we knew it we were playing at the Troubador. I was dripping sweat, it was hot as hell and I was super nervous. The crowd was really quiet and attentive in L.A. which was awesome.
Last night we played at a smaller spot called The Wire in Upland, CA, a smaller town about 45 minutes east of L.A. It was a younger all ages crowd, and the place was a small venue/art gallery and recording studio. Kids were super nice there and also listened very intently.
We crashed the last two nights with one of my best friends Justin Knittle in downtown L.A. We slept great, kicked it in hollywood, ate greasy food.
Off to San Diego for the last California show.
We are having a blast and all 4 shows have been great so far.
Until next time! -Kevin (and Curran).