The Low Down Review – No. 24

29 Oct

A Rebel Darling Configuration…
Photo by Kyle Plante

Hey Joe: A few weeks ago, in Saratoga Springs, NY, I was leaning back against the fence rail that separated the Keller Williams (thank you, Sam) concert-goers from those shuffling their way to some other party. I was taking in some air, beer in hand, during the set break between the opener and Keller’s set. A man walked up to me, pulled out a cigarette, and as he lit it, he said, “there’s something to be said about keeping your back to the wall.” He looked at me with a hint of suspicion. “I suppose there is,” I replied, and as he began to blow me off, I added, “I guess I’m cautious.” “Nothing wrong with that,” he said, and joined me on the rail.

We introduced ourselves, dug a bit into each other’s backgrounds, sipped our beers, and began trading music stories. This was his:

“STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN!? Man… I saw him in ’85, down at The Palace in Albany. It was the first time I’d seen or heard him. My buddy told me, ‘you gotta see this guy,’ and I’m up for just about anything, so I figured, why the hell not, you know?

“After the opener – who was pretty good, I forget who they were – Stevie Ray walks on stage wearing something like a frilly blouse, some kind of pink or purple scarf, and a big hat with silver medallions on it. I thought to myself, ‘What the hell is this? Who in the fuck is this guy?’ I looked at my buddy, and he didn’t say anything.

“Well, he didn’t waste any time talking or anything, he just tore right into this dirty, nasty, sweet, and I don’t know what tune, right off the bat. It’s like he hit the groove the second he stepped on to the stage. You could tell right away that this guy was all fire, man. He dug into this solo, burning it up, notes bending, singing, flying out like there was nothing between what his heart wanted to hear and what his fingers played. I just stood there, staring, listening, feeling that shit, and right at the top of it all, POP! The high-E string BREAKS! OH, MAN! You could see it swinging around in the stage lights, shining like a lightning bolt.

“Stevie Ray didn’t even pause, just kept right on with the groove and stomped over to the side of the stage. He yelled something back there – playing the whole time – and then strutted back to the center of stage and stood pat playing. Then some guy comes out from backstage with a stool. He set the stool right down in front of Stevie, sits on it, and… get this… Stevie flips his left hand up over the neck like this… and played it piano style while the tech RESTRUNG THE FUCKING GUITAR! Bwwowwww, bwwwieowww, bwwieeeyow, you could hear the string tuning up while Stevie’s mind and soul are still off somewhere laying it down, picking and bending the other five strings up-side-down. The tech picks up the stool, walks off stage like nothing’s happened, and Stevie digs in to kill the rest of this solo, ripping on the high-E. Then, he brings it down real soft and slow, leans into the microphone, and says, ‘My name is Stevie Ray Vaughan.’ Boom.”

Hey, Joe. Great story, man.

Click here to listen to Stevie Ray Vaughan and
Albert King play “Blues at Sunrise.” SRV breaks a string at the end…

It’s worth the 15 minutes.

Fresh Ink, Raw Skin. Lots of Freckles…
Nick Reinert is TALENTED

Tattoo Me: I thought I’d never get a tattoo. I thought it wasn’t my style, and I didn’t understand the desire. That changed as we carried “Harvest the Heart” through recording and into post-production. The image of the heart and the scythes, as Nick Reinert drew them, had a deep and lasting impact on my psyche when I first saw it, and I knew it was a special piece of art for me.

That sense grew stronger when finishing the record became both a personal and emotional struggle. Like most projects, what you didn’t imagine can become the greatest delight, or a burdensome obstacle. Nick’s art, and the boys’ playing were the delights. Wrapping the process up before deadline became the struggle as unimagined obstacles presented themselves.

Because of John Rice‘s efforts, selfless dedication, and professionalism, we wrapped up the post-production in time, and when I held that finalized CD in my hands, then listened to the tunes in the car, I knew that this experience would become a permanent part of my character and my being; a great deal changed over those few months. The image and the title drew the album and the effort together in one rugged, durable, and beautiful idea. And then, it came to me suddenly, and embedded itself amongst other recurring thoughts and daydreams – I wanted to express this feeling, this experience, through a tattoo. It’s as permanent as it can get for a body. Nick was the only choice as tattoo artist.

The Needle and Pen

I wear Nick’s art and that image as a badge, as a medal, and as a reminder. I’m honored and lucky enough to have been with all the right people, at the right time, working together to complete a project that I love. All of that is wrapped into that image, and the phrase, harvest the heart.

NOTE: If you are looking for a tattoo, and live around New York’s Capital District, I can recommend (and strongly urge you to visit) Nick and Jessica over at Ms. Dixie’s. Not only are they imaginative artists with steady hands, they are consummate professionals. They left no detail untouched on both the art and the process. I was amazed at how much fun I had because they made me feel at ease and comfortable.

Seriously, it was fun…
Photo by Julia Zave

From the Low Down: Those Womacks are a special group of people. They are full of so much life, love, positive energy, support, and musical talent. If you missed their show a few weeks ago, consider it an opportunity to see and hear them for the first time when they swing through again. If you caught the show, you know… A word to the wise, though – never leave them alone with your camera:

LtR – Noah and Tony of The Womacks

You might have noticed that “Rebel Darling” is scattered throughout this email. I also changed my website’s URL over to The reason is simple: the phrase rebel darling has become (perhaps always has been) a good description of the sound I’m trying to create, and the lyrics I write. I’ve been told this many times since I introduced the name on stage. It’s also a damn good name.

I provided a little background information on Rebel Darling over at the newly created facebook page, found here… It all started while sitting on stage with Ryan Dunham from the Red Haired Strangers, when I blurted out, “I think I’d like to call this Rebel Darling.” The whole room quieted down, and many of the folks in the room turned their heads towards the stage. That was a little over a year ago, and folks are still digging the name. Gotta go with what’s right and good.

The idea is to name the sound when I share the stage with any and/or all of the fine musicians I’ve come to know over the past few years. We all share a desire to constantly reimagine and reinterpret the tunes, playing them just how we feel. We’ve been rebelling from the rehearsed, and the result has been sweet. I’m not changing what is, I’m just giving it a name. On the technical side, all info will just redirect over to the new URL, so it’s easy on the user. At some point soon, I’ll change the website header and the one here on the LDR as well. Further evolution may occur…

As always, folks thank you for everything. Spread the word and share the song… Forward this email along to others you think would be interested. Definitely share the music, and head on out to catch an upcoming show, be it Rebel Darling with the boys, or a solo show… There’s no way I could do any of this without you. Thank you. See you out there.

– Mike

FYI – this place is better than ever…

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