3 Albums and a Single!

Hi Folks–

I just thought I’d loop you in on my musical progress this year as I just kinda realized it myself… I guess all this (lack of live gig…) downtime has helped me to be mildly productive after all… So, as it turns out (in case anyone hasn’t been paying attention) I have actually released 3 albums and a single this year!

First off – the single: “The New Not So Normal”

Released in June, this is the only ‘conventional’ release of the year, as in, the only one written, recorded, and released this year… In the spirit of 2020, yes, it is a little grim, but hey, I can only write I what I know ok? And don’t worry, it ends on a pretty upbeat note… (Thanks to Ben Mullin, Brad Sucks, and Doug Hendry for help with this one…)

Next — the kid music record: “The Time Machine”

Released waaay back in February, this is an assemblage of demos and home recordings of less “grown-up” sounding stuff from the the last several years that I had been collecting and sitting on… I am really proud of a few of these and my daughter loves them all… maybe you will too! Check out the title track if you need a little extra sugar in your coffee…

Next — the high school band album: NME “Naked Monkeys Eat”

This is another curation, this time of the best recordings I could find, assemble and (mildly) edit from my high-school/year-after-high-school funk-punk-pop-metal-goofball band NME… chock full of catchy toe-tappers, the song themes may be a little dated (remember when George Bush senior was an evil tyrant?) but the overall effect is pretty awesome… AAAND my friend Marshall said it reminds him of World Party… so how’s that for a pitch? Hell yeah!

And finally — the cowpunk record: Odus Krumly “Cold Beer & Hard Penis”

OK, so a group of 20-something musician dudes share a house a block away from the coldest Lone Star beer cooler in Austin, Texas in the early 90s… What do you expect? Yes, the songs are filthy, silly, cornball, and, perhaps, “overly influenced by being under the influence.” But they are also almost uniformly clever, and, sometimes, even hilarious…

So, there you have it, I’ve somehow managed to check a few boxes on the musical to-do list this year, even without much in the way of gigs or recording… Problem is… Now I’m running out of ways to procrastinate working on the new record… Wait, I know! Maybe I’ll write a post about all the ways I was actually productive this year? After all, get this… it turns out I released 3 Albums and a Single! Yeah, that’s a good one… (eye-roll) OK OK… back to work…

Odus Krumly – The Raunchy-Acoustic-Porch-Cowpunk-Party Years

At last, thanks to something called a “statute of limitations”, the true story of Odus Krumly, everyone’s favorite raunchy-acoustic-porch-cowpunk-party band of all time, can finally be told

Officially, it all began in a house on the flight path in Austin circa 1991-2…

Unofficially, it began near the turn of the century with the brief and tortured career of Odysseus “Odus” Colostemen Krumly Esq., musician, Crowleyan mystic, mustard gurgler, saint, poet, checker grand master, and child-buddha. It has often been reported at least 2-3 times on an Instagram thread, that the band’s name was inspired by the band’s coincidentally homonymical landlord, “Odus Crumley”, owner of Odus Realty and the house on Koening where most of the band usually lived and played, this, however, is not the case.

And yes, there is even one more beginning, long after the story of Krumly, and long before the move to the house of Crumley…. This other beginning was when an intrepid young man named Kevin “K-Bob” Waynes; blue-eyed bandleader, sideburn rancher, multi-instrumentalist and skilled producer of novelty answering machine jingles; came across a book of songs he found, one day, in the attic of his grandparent’s home. Or, as he describes it, in his own, exact words:

“One day, I found a book of songs in the attic of my grandparent’s home”.

He went on to reveal the contents of the book… a series of disturbingly vulgar tunes, all written in densely coded musical language. By luck, Kevin was able to decipher the book using a combination of native wit, extensive musical training, and the Fostex 4-track user’s manual. Kevin has never shared this story with anyone to this day, I’m not even sure how I know it. I’m probably having a peyote flashback or something.

Decoded, what the book revealed was much more than just a series of horny, cornball, and comedically violent ditties, it also named and told the story of their creator, the afore-mentioned Odysseus “Odus” Krumly (again, not to be confused with their landlord’s sound-alike name, ‘Odus Crumley’, although the mistake is easy to make and completely understandable… possibly even likely…)

According to the book, the canonical Odus Krumly (with a “K”) first started writing his tunes during a darkly puritanical time in the East Texas, Southern Baptist, bible-belt community where he was born… Writers of his nature were loathed by mainstream culture, usually beaten, killed, or worse, and always relegated to a life on the fringes of society… playing at saloons, brothels, and even some incredibly unseemly places like the Methodist church. Odus had plied his trade in the darkest of these corners, mastering his craft and refining his skills, all while secretly recording the greatest of these works in his book. The same book that K-Bob now held.

And so it came to pass that Waynes learned, played, and recorded the first song of many from its yellowing, brittle, urine-stained pages; the important, philosophically complex and powerfully emotional “Me and Billy Jim Bob (Got a Nail Gun)” – a song of hope for troubled times with the rousing, fierce call to arms, “We’re gonna kick your ass! We’re GOOOONNNNAAA KICK… YOUR ASS!” It was an instant classic, a masterpiece, a hit that took the world by storm, instantly propelling him into the spotlight, and changing his life, and the lives of all those around him forever.

With his new-found fame and glory, Kevin was left with few options other than to form a band, learn and record more of these magic spells from the secret grimoire, and to unleash their power onto the world.

His first recruit was a drummer, the mysterious Crowe Brandon, a master of the arcane polyrhythms of yore, weaver of mysteries, and inventor of the ‘pizza bone’ diet… Crowe heard Kevin’s tune and immediately set fire to his be-stickered and duct-taped punk rock drumset, and even while the crimson flames yet rose above them both in that furious pyre, Crowe screamed in possessed voice the words that still haunt us all to this day: “Fuck that punk rock bullshit! Let’s form a goddam country band!” Keeping only his singed and battered snare drum, the two then set off on a quest to expand their army of true believers…

It is fortuitous to note that Odus Krumly (not the landlo… oh dammit, you’ve got it by now) had not been completely relegated to the fabled and oft-discussed ‘dustbin’ of history… in fact, a single recording of one of his tunes had escaped, somehow unscathed, from the ravages of time… Passed down through countless hands from silver acetate to wax cylinder, from wax cylinder to vinyl record, and finally to a single cassette recording. By some weird chance of fate, this lone artifact somehow managed to find its way to the longly named Eric Bruce Elanor Northgate Goober aka “E. B. E. N.”, or, “Eben” Goober, a distant cousin of the original Odus, a bean eater, and the former singer for Waynes’ and Crowe’s first band, a Fishbone-World Party tribute act that had traded publicly under the legal name: ‘ENEMA’.

This cassette, assumed to be the last remaining vestige from the life of Krumly, was a portal for the intrepid Goober, and from the first time he heard those generation-warped steel guitar notes ringing out from the scratchy tape, from the first line of silly yet thought provoking lyric, Eben knew he had found a new calling.

That song was “Honey You Think We’re in Love (But We’re Still in Texas)” a tear-jerking divorce song that speaks frankly about the perils of involving the bottle in matters of the heart. The song came to Eben at the exact moment when he needed to find a new path, having, coincidentally, just experienced a divorce that had involved a somewhat perilous bottle…

As fate would have it, a new path would appear very soon in the form of a phone call from his old band-mate, Kevin “K-bob” Waynes, where-in the discovery of their shared connection to the forgotten icon Krumly was revealed… And after that, it was only a matter of weeks until Eben moved to Austin to join K-bob and Crowe at the house on Koening.

That house was key. Some believe that the original Odus may have lived or visited the house during his travels, and the legends are all true except for the ones that aren’t. There is, however, one who knows the truth, and he ain’t talking. I’m speaking of course of Chips Pasterson, the thousand year old hermit who has lived in the basement of the legendary house since before the dawn of time, emerging every generation or two for a few brief moments to impart the wisdom of the ancients, share a hand-rolled cigarette, and to teach his practice, called “the way of the peaceful tube amp,” to a new generation of acolytes.

As Kevin and the disciples of Odus began to congregate for the song ceremonies on the porch in those early days, it was Chips who brewed the first of the two sacraments (the hot, caffeinated one, not the ice-cold ‘Yellow, Bubbly, Water of Tang’…) for the gathered faithful, before pulling up his own chair and joining the reverie with a P-bass plugged into a mysterious rodeo amplifier.

In those heady days, song after song was transcribed from the tattered tome… harmonies were added, lyrics learned… Crowe keeping time on the half burnt snare with two paintbrushes he had rescued from a paintbrush retirement community, and singing his middle harmony in a clear, loud voice… Waynes strumming the guitar, singing the third part, and giving direction… Goober singing lead and attempting to divine the cryptic meanings of the phrases provided by the transcribed words of their prophet… Pasterson thumping out a low rumble and singing a fourth part in his clear, plaintive second tenor warble… only occasionally pausing to share a bit of his ageless wisdom.

It was a special time… some of the songs learned in that era are, alas, lost to time, songs like “(I Sure Love) Driving Drunk”, and “You’ve Got Holes”, but many have survived and are recorded in this collection. “My Name is Mud (and I Love You)” , “Dammit (I’m Just Too Hammered For You)”, and “If You Always Hurt the Ones You Love (Why the Hell Ain’t I Hurtin’ You?)” are among those carefully transcribed tunes.

Eventually, it became clear that the band would need to expand beyond the porch to share the gospel of Odus as they understood it, as it was clearly too important not to share. But even as they realized this, they also realized that there was a piece of the puzzle missing, indeed there was a Dirk Fillerup shaped hole in the heart of the band.

Dirk Fillerup had been a wizard for generations before the beginning of time, and was also the last surviving bass player for ENEMA, the aforementioned previous band… More than a mere time-keeper, DF was a fellow melodicist, an advanced guitarist, and was also quite skilled in the necessary, enigmatic art of ‘entertainment’ or, in the vernacular, ‘making an ass of himself onstage’, certainly a critical element should this congregation choose to expand from the porch and into larger venues…

It took some sleuthing but eventually Dirk was found, bailed out of his incarceration in a high-paying dead end job, stripped and scrubbed down, then brought into the fold, making a bed on the porch and borrowing instruments until he could steal his own like a grownup. His voice became the badly needed bass note in the multi-part assemblage, filling in the gap, and making the harmony whole.

These pastors of cowpunk’s original prophet now ventured forth, singing the sacred, filthy words of Odus, fighting under his banner, and conquering nations in his name. Famous gigs included opening spots for any band playing inside the club on whose sidewalk they chose to play on, any party with a fair amount of free beer and collection of pots and pans that could stand in for a drumkit, and any punk-club that did not vet the acts before hiring them. Sadly, the well-publicised but ill-fated “You’re-a-Peein’” tour of 6th street bathrooms was never realized when K-Bob got into that Interscope band and Eben moved off to Cali.

Postscript: There are a couple of songs on here written by Odus Krumly, but actually recorded at different times by K-Bob (“Is it Hard Enough?”) and Eben (“I’ve Got a Dipstick”, “Hello, Penis (It’s Me Again)”) alone, and two recorded with other converts (Brian Something and Josh Whosit) in a briefly-lived band called The Cornfritters (“The Greens” and “Cornfritters”). They are all included in this collection because this is a tribute not to the eponymous cowpunk porch band, but to Odysseus “Odus” Krumly, the muse…

And finally, in the immortal words of Crowe; “Fuck that punk rock bullshit! Now, y’all go form a goddam country band!!”

Post-Postscript:

Almost all songs written, performed and recorded at various times and locations in the Austin, Texas area the early 90s by Odus Krumly:

Kevin “K-Bob” Waynes, Crowe Brandon, Eben Goober, Chips “R-Down” Pasterson, Dirk Fillerup

(aka Kevin Allen, Brandon Crowe, Bruce Enloe, Chip Patterson, Derek Phillips; with guests on 10 & 12: Josh Lindsay and Brian…something…)

Archives: ‘NME’ …the funk-punk-pop-metal-rock-band years…

Once upon a time I was young, VERY young, and yes, I did have bands/make music… And now, for basically no good reason at all, I have decided to put some of that bandsmusicstuff on the internet.

This ‘album’ is a coulda-been-album/mix of tunes and recordings written and performed mostly with my two best pals, Brandon Crowe and Kevin Allen, in the late 80s/early 90s. We had a band that we felt very good calling ‘NME’ because in a small city in Texas in the pre-internet era, we had almost no awareness of and/or consideration for the naming rights of British publications. In a nod to the punkish mode of the times (DRI, MOD), we rotated the meaning of the acronym from time to time, often from show to show… Starting out with the naively proto-political ‘New Moral Establishment’ (a dig at the Swaggart-ized conversation in the air in those days) and rotating through chestnuts like ‘Nude Messiahs from Egypt’, ‘Neon Mucus Eggplant’, and finally ‘Naked Monkeys Eat’ (among others…)

Over time, we lost several bassists to explosions, fires, loose morals, college, girls, boredom… you know, all the usual stuff, but the two mainstays featured on this record are founding bassist Jonathan ‘X’ and final bassist Derek Phillips (the exalted, long may he reign). For the record, these precociously amazing musicians are responsible for every single cool note, performance, chord progression and solo found here-in as I was ‘pre-guitar’ in this period, and, conversely, none of these fine gentlemen can be blamed for a single one of my shitty adolescent rhymes, vocal tics, bum notes, or poorly formed nascent philosophy expressed in the lyrics, as we often played so loud that they couldn’t even hear them anyway. The comedically hormonal sexuality in some of the songs, however, was definitely encouraged if not dictated to me by this subhuman gang of perverts and monsters and I take no responsibility, NONE, for any of it. OK, maybe a little…

Three songs on this collection were demos recorded after (written and performed during) the time that band was active, (Photograph, Built a House, and Come Around). Kevin Allen did most of the heavy lifting on those and I showed up, sang, and took all the credit. I have compressed and edited those a little, but other than that, all of these recording are from the time and from the band without any updates… Kevin, who did most of our recording in those days, went on to an actual career in music for some time and even in this early stuff, his guitar solos scream with bluster and confidence. Brandon has played with approximately 7, 289 Austin bands at this point and if you have ever had a beer on sixth street there is upwards of a 94.28 percent chance that you have met him. (Britannica, 2019)

Jonathan ‘X’ went on to work for the CIA and is currently working in the Los Angeles underground with a group of ragged misfits called the ‘A Team’ (or something like that, I have gracefully not dragged him into this re-opening of old… tunes), and Derek stayed with the band through it’s next evolution into an acoustic mock country outfit called ‘Odus Crumly’… but that… is a story for another time…

I hope you enjoy this for what it is, a time capsule, a snapshot in an… album you could say… It is not meant to make any statement, it is just something that made me smile today, and that seemed like, for whatever reason, something worth sharing. Enjoy!

branch roasted potato wedges and tomato aioli…

branchburger and wedges… pretty sure Meredith Luce took the pic…

(by request for Tom and Jeanne…)

First off – be aware that we at the branch did not hate French fries…  However, when we bought Amanda’s Slip in 2006, there was no fryer, nor was there money for a fryer… and further, our insurance guy made it clear that the minute we put in a fryer, out insurance would go up.  Suffice it to say, there was no money for that either.

This was not, initially, an issue as the branch was not to be a ‘fast food’ joint, our plan was to just skip those types of dishes or pan fry things if we really needed them. AJ from ‘the Slip’ had worked out an elaborate fry system involving his magnificent knife skills, blanching the hand cut fries in ‘well-loved’ oil and a crusty wok with long ago burnt away wooden handle… When the order came in, he finished them with a final flash fry.  The results were kind of amazing, but the process was one of many techniques that, really, only AJ could pull off.

Nicole and I carved out a getaway at some point in the first year… certainly not a full-fledged vacation, but it was at least a night or two in Toronto, where friends of Nicole’s took us to a lovely bistro.  It was one of the few dining experiences outside of our own place we had that year, so as anyone who has ever survived a restaurant launch can tell you, it was definitely memorable. It also helped me get over a personal hump.

We had made a decision early on to use organic and local product wherever possible, and, as a result, I had been dead-set against the branch competing directly with other menus in town. I knew that if we did, as we would always have to spend more for our better quality ingredients, we would also have to charge ‘more’ than the other places for similar portions. In my mind, we would never be able to go head to head on the nebulous concept of ‘perceived value’… So, no nachos, no pizza, and, definitely, no burgers… We were to be an ‘alternative’ experience not another place to try a variation on the few themes that already existed in our village. 

It also meant people had a hard time figuring out what we did do. The people who ‘got’ us, really got us, but most folks just walked by and wondered ‘what the heck is that place?’ Or they presumed the ‘organic’ in our marketing meant ‘health food’ or ‘vegetarian’… We did offer those items, sure, but it was also not our core mission… our core mission was to de-mystify ‘organic’ foods and make them fun, accessible, and crave-able… Instead? Lots of folks categorized us in their heads before they walked through the door, (or didn’t walk through the door, technically…) and we were left, somewhat lonely, in a state of constant questioning and trying to find a new way (short of abandoning our values) to convince folks to give us a try.

So, Toronto.  That trip away was exactly what we needed. Taking a breath in the middle of that crazy year was a blessing in every definition of the word… And the bistro? It was lovely… Not necessarily a “5 star” experience, but that was not the intention. It was definitely in the ‘upscale casual’ range we had been studiously aiming for with our own restaurant, and the food was well presented, and in what was a fairly new practice in this area at the time, farm names even showed up next to some menu items. It was a ‘local’… not a pub, just a respectable, inviting, homey place with good service, good portions, fair prices… And it was PACKED. Oh, and did I mention the burger?

That was the real revelation. Right there in plain sight, no apologies, was a ‘gourmet’ burger. Not my first (we did move here from San Francisco after all) but my first in a while (…keeping in mind that this was well before ‘The Works’ re-wrote the Ottawa script on the potential of this here-to-for humble meal). Where I had previously avoided the idea of ever serving burgers… fries… pizza… this experience helped me re-write the story in my head. Burgers were not a ‘no’ they were an ‘if’.

To clarify… ‘If’ we wanted to do a burger, (or fries, or nachos, or pizza) it had to be like this one… A gourmet burger. It had to be the BEST.

So, that’s what we decided to do, and that’s what we did.

We ground our own local beef (a blend of chuck and striploin) with a ridiculously rich fat to lean ratio… We perfected a spice/seasoning blend for the hand-formed oversized patty… We designed and had an organic bun custom made for us by the local bakery… We shredded veggies and invented a sauce… We even made our own pickles and mustard! When it hit the menu, the branchburger was the most expensive burger in Kemptville (possibly Ottawa) at $9.99 base cost plus toppings (by the time we sold the restaurant it was closer to $20) and for toppings we offered a wild selection of additions including fried egg, house pickled hot peppers… local blue cheese, old cheddar… caramelized onions…

So… fries.

Burgers, let’s face it, need fries. But we still didn’t have a fryer. We considered AJ’s method… but without his special skills, it would have been a challenge… Then Nicole remembered ‘Cato’s’ (‘Cato’s Never Closes!’) a 24 hour diner in Oakland, our old stomping grounds… Cato’s did not have a fryer either, which, given the business model, could certainly have been an enormous problem… a problem they solved with giant, golden, garlicky roasted potato wedges.  In our Oakland years, we both had come to regularly crave this big basket of salty carb-a-licious-ness… often bypassing many other perfectly snack-able stops on our way to get there. After her revelation, we both knew that if we could figure out the formula, we could certainly have a worthy side for our most excellent burger.  Add another splash of that sauce we invented for the burger (roasted tomato aioli) and a signature dish that endured the full decade of our ownership was born.  

So without further ado…

BRANCH ROASTED POTATO WEDGES WITH TOMATO AIOLI:

Potatoes:

1-2 large or 2-3 medium potatoes (about 1 pound), cleaned and cut into long wedges, about 1-inch (2-3 cm) per side (we mostly used starchy russet potatoes for the best results)

1 generous tablespoon vegetable oil (we used refined sunflower or canola)

2 teaspoons garlic powder

2 teaspoons dried thyme

2 teaspoons paprika

Salt and black pepper to taste (Nicole says kosher salt, but as I remember we used a blend of coarse and fine sea salt… It was probably kosher…)

Aioli:

1/2 cup roasted tomatoes (we used ripe tomatoes or scraps, oil, salt and pepper and roasted them on racks fitted over sheet trays at about 300 F for an hour or two until leathery) or reconstituted sundried tomatoes (pour over boiling water and rest until soft, drain well)

3 egg yolks

½ lemon, juice

2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon chili flake

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Salt

2-3 cups vegetable oil

Method:

Potatoes:

Line a sheet pan with parchment (not waxed) paper and preheat the oven to 375 F.

In a large mixing bowl, toss the potato wedges, oil, and spices together until quite well coated.  Feel free to add a pinch more oil at this stage if it seems dry… there should be enough oil for the spices to adhere completely to the wedges.

Lay out the wedges, skin side down, on the lined tray (…important step for even roasting.)

Transfer to the oven and roast for 40 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy outside and just soft in the middle. Rotate the tray once during the cooking.  (Oven times and temps may vary, and some wedges may need to be removed from the edges earlier than the full cooking time if the oven has any hot spots…)

Aioli:

Use a food processor fitted with a chopping blade and a pour-though spout on top for best results.

Squeeze out the tomatoes a bit, reserve juice. They should be soft enough to blend but not wet.

Combine the tomatoes, egg yolks, lemon, garlic, mustard, vinegar, chili flake, and salt in the processor and blend until smooth.  Do not allow the mixture to get hot, if it does, refrigerate briefly before adding oil.

The amount of salt is dependent on your taste, and also the amount of salt in the tomatoes – if using sundried tomatoes, be aware that some varieties are very salty, and that the softening process will remove some, but not all of the salt, taste as you go for best results.

While the processor is running, add the oil in a slow, steady stream until the mayonnaise is fully formed. The amount of oil will vary depending on your preferences, with the finished product, but 3 yolks should be enough to bind all three cups of oil.  If the aioli is too thick, add a bit of the reserved juice from the tomatoes or water.

Serve the potatoes hot – If you make them ahead, reheat in a 350 F oven for 8-10 minutes.

The aioli is pretty good on a burger too, or so I’ve heard…

Burn

(Bruce Enloe, June 2020)

Do I want to burn it all down? Of course I do
I am already drinking black acrid smoke from the fire
Blinking back tears stinging cheeks with the toxic hot air of protest
Racing with red mobs bleeding through streets, stealing
Metallic taste stabbing my tongue and my teeth

Do I want to burn it all down? Of course I do
I have seen the bottom, dark and lifeless
Bent rebar rubble, smouldering black
Charred and dead, dark plastic airplane fuel peeling off bodies
Piled in trenches, twisted, rigor morted
Skies raining flame-throwing hailstorms and hate
on a Tuesday

Do I want to Burn it all down? Of course I do
I wanted it first and I wanted it harder
With every bulging appendage of my
Bloated fat body burdened by this diet of only the finest white shit
Our father’s poison prayer promising:
‘us… over them’
‘us… over them’
‘us… over them’
And so on forever

Do I want to burn it all down? Of course I do
But some sick fucking monster has already killed me, and I’m dead from blows struck at the base my bloodline
Before I could choose to be born

Do I want to burn it all down? Of course I do
But it’s already burned and I’m nothing but ashes
Smudged on a window obscuring a scene of something beyond this, elusive and organized, ordered and clean
I wonder what else is up next on TV?

Do I want to burn it all down? Of course I do
Pass me the matches, pass me the gas
Pass me the kindling and then

Later… after…

Pass me the hammer, the nails, and three boards — pine, cypress, and cedar
And please… this time, let’s try to make damn sure that dirty white bastard stays dead.

Starting Over

Hi y’all — I feel like giving all of you a hug right now and this song is probably the closest I can get…

Starting Over

It’s so easy to cling to your tired old notions.
As you bob on a ring, out in an ocean—
That’s full of the proof, that you were wrong all along—
And when you start to sink, and when it’s all gone—
Don’t be afraid, it’s not the end,
You’re just starting over…


You tie a small string, to everything
So you can reel it back in, you won’t lose it again…
But it still gets away, because nothing is real—
It’s just what we’ve, agreed to believe…
Don’t be afraid, it’s not the end
You’re just staring over…

The Time Machine — home recorded Kid’s Music for fun

So over the course of the last several years I wrote a few kid’s songs and I’ve decided to release them here in ‘demo’ form (for fun) because I can’t seem to get around to finishing them… and, honestly, the quirky demos have kinda grown on me over time.

Maybe your kids will enjoy them as much as mine does… 🙂 Hearts and love to all…

#1 all time greatest hit?

Having tunes out in the world doing their own thing is a strange feeling…

Thanks to the wonders of the digital age, from time to time I am able to check in on what is happening with all of these little nuggets of myself (aka “songs”) I’ve sent out into the world. Must admit that it turns out that I’m not a great predictor of… well… anything? Some songs I felt would be well loved and travel far have run out of steam a few inches out of the gate… and some songs I thought were a silly, tossed-out ‘just for fun’ tunes have become cornerstones of my catalogue… (Jerry the Christmas Robot anyone?)

To be fair there are definitely not any crowds clamoring for my next utterance, these are just observations based on my extremely limited trickle of analytic digital feedback statistics…

And to be clear, I am incredibly grateful for every listen that every single person gives me… Music… songwriting specifically, is my passion; every time someone out there encourages me to spend another second on it by listening to any one my songs to the end, I am deeply heartened, it is as if you are giving me permission to keep doing it. So thank you.

Anyway, I thought I’d dash off a note today because of something specific I have noticed and am admittedly touched and surprised by… the enduring and consistent listens given to “Late Fight” the second track on Unseasonably Cool, my second album with The Burning Sensations, my big fun group of best pals that recorded a couple of albums with me a few years ago…

My appreciation for this song in particular still having a little traction after all this time is doubly rewarding because it is not a ‘tossed-off’ quickie like some others that have done ok for me over the years; it is decidedly not silly, it wasn’t easy to write, and I am very proud of the lyrics, and the story is from a deep and honest place… (must mention that I am also still consistently knocked out by the band’s over the top performances and by Ben Mullin and Brad Turcotte’s excellent production…)

I often tell the story on stage of this song’s origin… and I thought maybe I would share it here in print in recognition of it’s enduring (if modest) “success”…

The story really begins at the end of my first marriage… My wife and I lived during our year together in a small house on the back half of her grandparent’s ranch property along a bit of highway frontage not far from the college in my home town. The home had been built when they bought the ranch, long before our time there, and was a firm, solid structure, if small and easy to outgrow. It had been their ‘starter home’ and now it was ours. We carved a lot out of the corner of the pasture with cedar posts and wire fencing for our dogs…

We felt we had it all, a mow-able lawn, a porch, a comfortable home with wide plank wooden floors and a gravel driveway… There were some fruit trees and the horses would wander over from the barn from time to time seeking the windfall…

But we didn’t. We were young… troubled… and, ultimately, probably just simply mistaken. We married because it felt like the next logical move, and when the reality set in, it was probably not a question of ‘if’, but ‘when’.

We did not make it easy on ourselves… We had the kinds of fights that stretched out over days and weeks, and I must confess that we were not kind to each other. There was anger and bitterness. We were not good at this.

In time it became clear to me that she had taken up criticism as a primary pastime, so I responded in kind by taking up lying. At the time, it seemed like a path of least resistance, I was presenting her with the facsimile of the person she seemed to want me to be… but in hindsight, it (my lying) became the singular problem that could not be overcome…

And so we split up. I was angry, I was sad, but mostly, if I’m honest? I was relieved. We parted paths and I went ahead and took along a couple of handfuls of that anger and the sadness with me for a long time after that… They were like padding under my armor… the first layer of numbness between me and the world to come.

It took a couple more tries but eventually, I think, I got the relationship thing figured out a little better, left my hometown, moved away…

And then, many years on, as one does when a bit older, I came home for visit. During that visit, on a drive to another place, I took a route that seemed familiar and after a bit, I realized that it was our old road… The frontage… the stretch of road where we had set up house…

By the time I realized where I was I had passed the address and on whim I turned back. It was an impulse, natural I guess, to see how the old house had held up… I felt I must have missed it because I couldn’t find it on the second pass… So I stopped where my body told me too. Where the house was.

And it was there… somewhere… back in the woods. Some number of decades had passed, and by my reckoning, I was the first visitor to the spot since we had moved out. Trees growing up through the gravel, through the house… a dense wood and the outline of a house in it’s midst.

As I tell my audiences, once I saw that I realized that if I could not find a song in that scene, then I should probably hang up my songwriting hat for good…

But I did not find it right away, that came later. It came after a phone call… Not with her but with another estranged love… Songs sometimes take a winding path… It came after self examination, self honesty, and after a little bit of forgiveness. It is difficult to remove the padding and keep on the armor… So it came after a little bit of vulnerability and exposure to the elements as well.

And a bit more came after a walk under the trees in the fall one day, when I was shocked into open, vulnerable consciousness by the beauty of the leaves in their full plumage, moments before they fell to the ground, soon to fade away forever. Beauty, loss… that old saw.

And finally it came in full when someone told me to write it. All those pieces must have kicked around for months before Lynn Miles popped into the CBC studio one day and challenged local songwriters to run with lyric scrap “the desperation of a late night phone call…” that scrap of hers became the thread that could finish sewing the quilt of the song into a piece, and I finally finished it in full the next day (thanks Lynn!)

I look at my ‘stats’ every week or two for Spotify, Apple Music and Bandcamp, and this song seems to have a life of its own. I’m not sure who picked it up or why but every time I check, it is out there being played somewhere, a few times per day, per week… It adds up over time. Over time it has become my personal “all time #1 greatest hit” (he said with a wink)…. I like to think that it’s because of the story… the universal nature of it’s message about love, loss, mourning and acceptance… And I’m also pretty sure the ripping guitar solo plays a pretty important role as well (thanks Ben!)

But either way, I am incredibly grateful you folks are out there and that you are still listening. Every single time you do…