The Low Down Review – No. 20

15 Nov

The Evidence – Photo by Greg Klyma

Stairwell Inspiration: Sometimes songs are found after days of playing with a melody, or weeks of scrawling out the particulars of a life event. Other times songs are found in a stairwell.

Rust-belt vagabond, buddy, and Boston-based troubador Greg Klyma and I left a late-night showcase room while at NERFA and headed towards the stairwell. While trudging up the stairs, guitars in tow, I muttered the phrase, “she can make a man change his mind.” We went silent. Our footsteps, and the muffled chatter a few flights up, were the only sounds. I could feel our concentration bearing down on that phrase. After about five seconds, I said, “I’m holding onto that one.” We burst into a sly laugh, and our focus sharpened.

We headed right for Greg’s room, broke out a guitar and mandolin, passed a flask of whiskey between us, and flipped open the notebook. 40 minutes later (at 3:30 a.m.), with the instruments and an empty flask, we headed back out into the NERFA fray to shop the song around. By all accounts, we’ve a keeper.

It’s happened a few times before, and I’m still amazed by how a seemingly random phrase becomes the seed from which a song bears fruit. Greg and I knew, maybe instinctively, that the phrase was a chorus to an unwritten song. We also knew, without really discussing the objective, that it was our job to find out who said that phrase and capture that character in a few verses, choruses and a revelatory bridge. We just sat down and started plugging away with a disposable pen, some scribbles, our share of duds, and a few flourishes.

We walked out of Greg’s room with a solid country tune, and some ideas on how to bring it to y’all’s ears – more on that in the coming months. And, if you request “Make a Man Change His Mind,” I’ll play it at a show (I’m working on the bridge vocals; it’s a little higher than my normal range, but I’m getting there). For now, I’m sending gratitude across the Berkshires and over the Pioneer Valley – I’m glad we decided to take the stairs, Greg.

LtR – Bob Ristau, Mike Eck, Ryan Dunham, myself, Mat Kane
Photo by Josh DuJack

Turn Your iPod On: This just in, folks: you can purchase the Lost Radio Rounders’ latest CD, Heaven’s Radio on CD Baby as both a physical CD and as a digital download. That’s right, you can get that old-timey, spirit-lifting live sound right on your computer, or in your mailbox. Just look at them photos, folks. You know you want to hear how it sounds. Purchase individual songs, or the album as a whole. It’s wholesome music originally recorded by the Carter Family, and it’ll do your soul some good to listen in. Step right up…

Not a bad pitch, ehy? In all seriousness, you should check out this recording. It was recorded in a similar fashion to how the Carter Family would have done it years ago: straight live. The CD release party was a great time, and I thank Mike Eck and Tom Lindsay for asking me to be a part of the project – I hope we get to play again. It was also a pleasure to be part of such a stellar cast, including Kim Kilby, Ryan Dunham, Bob Ristau, and Mat Kane.

Click here to sample and/or purchase Heaven’s Radio

LtR – Ryan Dunham, Tom Lindsay, myself
Photo by Josh DuJack

From the Low Down: You might notice that my show schedule is shorter than usual. The reason is we’ve started recording and I have to set as much time as possible aside to make sure we finish on schedule. That’s right, there’s a schedule, and there’s already a deadline. Why is there already a deadline? Well, the guys (John Rice, Roger Noyes and Tommy Krebs) and I will release the next album on Saturday, March 30th at Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs, NY. I’m already excited, and we have a lot of work to do in order to make it happen.

Photo by John Rice

Joining us for the night will be Caitlin Canty, a wonderfully talented singer and songwriter, based out of NYC, but originally from Vermont. I happened upon Caitlin’s latest album, Golden Hour online and by chance. After a few songs, I clicked “Purchase” and wrote her a note informing her that I’d be stealing from her album. After meeting her this past weekend, and hearing each other perform, we sat down to share a few tunes. Turns out we have some similar musical interests and approaches, and I’m looking forward to introducing her sincere and thoughtful songs to y’all. Many thanks to the clairvoyant Sarah Craig at Lena’s for making it happen. Put this show in your calendars now. Advance tickets are recommended.

In the immediate future, I’m also excited for this Friday’s show (Nov. 16) at Desolation Road Studios in Altamont, NY. You might remember that I mentioned Jim and his work in LDR No. 19. On Friday, Jim hosts Rosary Beard (Hunter Sagehorn & Matthew Loiacono) and I for a warm night of tunes to chill to. Here are the details:

Head on out and join us, request a song or two. It’s a comfortable room, and I plan to play a comfortable, relaxed set. And… Rosary Beard writes beautiful music, suitable for just about every situation. Their album, Halfmoon Fever is an outstanding addition to any catalogue. Hope to see you there.

As always, folks thanks for everything. Spread the word and share the song… I truly wouldn’t be able to do this without you.

– Mike

Maya de Vitry (The Stray Birds)
Bears Down on the Banjo at NERFA

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