Looking for hi-fi in all the wrong places

I’m not sure which is the more embarrassing interest of mine to admit to, automobiles or audio. Tell someone you’re a Car Guy, and folks automatically think you’re the held-back twat backfiring on the overrun out the driveway every morning at 6:30, or one of the legions of stunted children teeming in Instagram and YouTube comments sections, simultaneously loathing BMW owners and anyone else who loathes BMW owners. It’s why I’m more of an old fire truck kind of guy anyway.

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Buy a van while you still can, or: Meandering Dreck on the Working Class and Whitey

When I bought Big Maybelle, my grandpa-spec two-tone 1988 F-350, to take the place of a Harley Sportster as my main mode of transportation in the dawning days of 2017 when things were really starting go tetas to the heavens for humanity, my then-boss the great Ken Rich thought me a fool. So did everyone else. For who buys a wide, six-wheeled, oil-fired, standard-shift pickup truck nearly as old as oneself with broken air conditioning for daily use in Los Angeles but a fool such as I? Between bellows of laughter and calling it a broken down old piece of shit, which it was, Kenny thought I ought to have got a van. Come on. A van? What was I, a British housepainter? Other than Sammy Johns, who had ever written a song about a van? I was staunchly anti-van. Nuts to vans. I’m an American man. Give me a truck. Right?

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Leslie 51C restoration: For the love of an albatross

At the risk of sounding like the dreaded involuntarily celibate teenage Nice Guy that blames his dearth of female prospects on the archetypal douchebag “Chad,” we always fall for the ones that hurt us.

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The 2-meter ham band is a depraved and lawless slag heap of old

I grew up as the internet grew up. And so, I grew up in chatrooms. I was there for the glory years of Yahoo! Chats, AOL IM, and even the Boston.com HTML-based chat that required you to hit “Refresh” to keep up with the conversation. They were debauched and freewheeling days, when everyone was no one and your parents didn’t want you “doing e-mail.” The late 20th Century. Your beloved 1990s. In that brave time bridging the sepia-toned stick-and-hoop epoch of The Old Days and today’s morass of hollow, befiltered self-made superstars and truth having no meaning, before comments sections, before the Ice Bucket Challenge and the Harlem Shake, before Instagram and YouTube and your grandmother getting on Facebook, chatrooms were where Reagan babies came into our own.

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My Mother Road

Sarah and I were charged with retrieving a brand new 4×4 Sprinter van from Mercedes-Benz of Temecula and delivering it to my brother-in-law in Cedar City, Utah, equidistant between the Benz dealer and Jeffie and Kevin’s mountain home in Old Snowmass, Colorado. I drove the Sprinter and Sarah followed in Vanna White. After we dropped the tall Brotwagen off to an eager Kevin in the Beehive State, we got in Vanna and wandered south into Zion National Park. It was there I found my white whale.

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Vallury & Butler hit high water mark in history of jazz, or at least tomfoolery

Further to the earlier post on Joey Clift’s Our Fifty States Project, the collaboration between one R. K. Vallury and myself rolls on like a Deltic diesel locomotive, belting through the countryside night in a blue haze and dusting the sleep from the gentry’s eyes. Or something.

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The 50 States Project, or: Why I can never show my face in Chicopee, MA

This quarantine situation has somehow both stifled my will to do anything and also jump-started a long-dormant creativity. Some days I don’t want to get out of bed, some days I do the best work I’ve done in over a decade. LA comedian Rama Vallury and I have found ourselves in a songwriting partnership that went back to his days as half of the comedy duo George & Vallury, writing songs for their sketch comedy shows at the Second City.

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Shop Update: The Wild, The Innocent, and the C-3 Shuffle

At the end of January I caught a wave of impulsivity. One night after a gig with Bobby Bluehouse I decided that my current road organ, the chopped C-2, was good, but not great, as a live rig. It lacked the responsive key feel and screaming, spitting fury of my other organ, the “studio” A-100. That thing will just cut your coolyans off. That one, I felt, should really be for live use. But the chop wouldn’t be ideal for my recording purposes, owing to its clunky ratcheting drawbars that make smooth timbral transitions nigh on impossible–something that would be very noticeable on a record. Yes, I could always swap out the drawbar rail, but good luck finding a good set of smooth drawbars for less than a car payment, if at all, and the money and time spent on the conversion would be better spent on a -3 series organ, I believe. It was time to do the organ shuffle.

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New music for the apocalypse

Yes, times are strange and frightening. But in the spirit of the Italians who are persevering through song, I decided to put out another single from the All Ages Record. From Disney’s 1963 classic “The Sword in the Stone,” I present the folk-opera-funk arrangement of “That’s What Makes The World Go ‘Round (To and Fro).” Featuring:

Sean George: lead vocals
Shannon Rose McAuliffe: lead and backing vocals
Jordan Gravely: acoustic guitar
Brian Weiland: hammered dulcimer
Bunny Butler: electric pianos, Hammond organs, organ bass, synthesiser
Vinny Monya: cajon and other percussion, backing vocals
The Hondu Choir: backing vocals

Go wash your hands then take a listen.

On the significance of a gone dead Ampeg and the Old Vineyard Way

“But then the fire in my boiler up and quit before I came/there ain’t no empty cellar/need a gone dead train.” –R. S. Newman, 1970

Long before I could drive, or really even play, I fell into a collection of instruments that would make the Silver Lake $100-undercut mavens of vintage skip a collective heartbeat. I was given more cool gear before I was 12 than I would be able to afford until I was in my 30s. Such was the benefit of living among the cabal of doting Vineyard hippies with leaky barns and mildewed basements full of things that hadn’t seen the light of day since Nixon.

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