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The Exited Door, On Sale

9 Mar

In honor of all the new friends I’ve made over the past six months, I’ve decided to make my first solo record, “The Exited Door,” 50% off at Bandcamp. For the rest of this week, it’s selling for $5 (though you can name your price, should you want to pay more). You can also stream the whole thing for free on the site, or even listen to it right here:

I had no label, no producer, no mixing engineer, no professional studio—only me, my best musician friends, and anyone else I could convince to pitch in. I guess the word “indie” has taken a bit of a beating lately, but I’m not sure it gets more indie than how I made this album.

If you’re curious, I wrote a detailed, seven-part series about the process of making the album which was fun to write and is worth checking out. Even though I hope to work with a producer and a professional engineering team on my next album (and don’t doubt that the album would have been “better” had I had them), it is a point of pride for me that I managed to make it at all, and I’m really glad that I took the time to document the process.

We also do this stuff live, and I’ve made a video montage of a show we did a year and a half ago. I seriously, mega need to do another big show like this one; it was way too much fun.

 

Huge thanks to everyone who’s bought the record so far; I hope you are enjoying it. Your support is hugely valued, so please spread the word to anyone you think might like it!

Musical Happenings

17 Aug

I’ve been working on a lot of different things, so I thought I’d take a minute to detail them here. Also, as you can see from that image, I’ve come down with a mild case of Scott Pilgrim Fever.

SF Songbird Festival Show @ The Blue Macaw

First up is a show we did a couple of weeks at at the groovy Blue Macaw in the Mission. It used to be called 12 Galaxies, and I actually haven’t been to the club since they changed names. Fortunately, the super cool Mz. Urban Therese (whom I have gotten to know as “Therese”) was putting together a bill for her Songbird Festival and asked if I’d like to participate.

We played alongside Debby Gipsman, Juliet Strong, and Jascha Hoffman, all of whom sounded great and were really cool. Debby opened with a solo acoustic set – girl has a really strong voice, sounds somewhat like Natalie Merchant, but better? And I don’t mean that in a silly way, I like Natalie Merchant’s voice, but Debby actually has a really cool quality that I dug. Juliet brought a really big, eclectic band, with accordion, cello, flute (who killed it and was a total babe to boot), cajón, upright bass and herself on keys and vocals. She sounded great, and has written some neat songs – check her stuff out! Jascha Hoffman played the closing set and gave a really charming performance with a kick-ass band – my bassist Daniel was playing with him, and his guitarist sounded great (his name is Adam Roszkiewicz, he plays with a ton of cats) and his drummer was Jason Slota, a great player from Afrodesia and John Vanderslice. Dang, that dude can freakin’ play the drums.

So yeah, our set. It was probably the most relaxed I’ve ever felt going into a show, which was so nice. All of my go-to color instrument folks (Violin, Trumpet, etc) were out of town or booked, so we went with the six-piece. Me, Dan and Lindsay on vocals, Nervo on guitar, Daniel Fabs on bass and Tim McGregor on drums. A killer group, and all friends, so we had a really laid-back vibe in general.

And we killed!  Seriously. I’ve never felt so good about a show – we could do that every night and it’d never get old. I mean, it’d get old, but it feels like it’d never get old. We went through the usual acoustic stuff – “The Darkened Street,” “No Crow, Scarecrow,” “North Kinser,” “Oh, Brother,” “If You’re Feeling Out Of It.”  Most of which are on my record, which hey, if you don’t have it, you should buy it. You know, forget iTunes even – you can actually buy it. Support independent music, man!

Just for kicks, Dan and I did our duo song “The Can Man,” which we wrote together a while back, and it was a ton of fun. We might have to start performing that one more often. And of course, at the end of the set, we played Shoshana. A hit, as always.

There was a really great crowd out, and we were so happy for everyone’s enthusiastic support. Thanks so much for coming, one and all! Thanks also to Therese and the awesome Frankie Burton, who helped run the show and took the pictures here. My next show will most likely be in September, and I’m planning on whipping out some mondo new material later in the fall, too. More on that soon.

Keyboards This Weekend with Blue Rabbit!

Next thing up is a cool one. I’ll be subbing on keyboards with the groovy chamber-pop vocal band Blue Rabbit! This is a band who, if you’ll recall, I described upon first listen as sounding like “the best episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer ever.” (Don’t worry, I elaborated. Or maybe, worry: I elaborated.)

They are awesome, and we’ve been friends since we shared a bill last year at the Rickshaw Stop. Tim, their keyboardist, wasn’t available this weekend, so they needed someone to fill in. They gave me a ring, and even though my first instinct was “Seriously? Can I learn this much keyboard music in a week?” after thinking about it, I realized “Yeah actually, I can!” So I went for it. We rehearsed last night, and the show is going to be a blast.

We’re playing at the Rock Make Street Festival in the mission, going on at noon. The best part about playing keyboards is that I don’t have to bring an instrument – just myself and my middling chops. So, after the set we’ll hang around at the festival and drink beer and listen to music. Come out! Say hi! Meet these people! They are like the nicest band ever!

Info on the festival is here. Do eet. Do eet.

New Songs, New Projects, DRUMS

Last but not least are the new things I’m working on. Mostly, it’s new music. A bootload of it, actually. I’ve got around eight songs in the hopper, and a few more ideas that are slowly working their way into more fully-formed tunes. It’s really, really fun stuff, and I’ve been having a blast finally adding lyrics and finishing up the form. Pretty soon, I’ll have demos out to the band and we can start actually learning this stuff!

It’s bigger, I’d say, than anything on The Exited Door. Not a huge shift in style or anything, just more fully-realized – the tunes take greater advantage of the three vocal parts, as well as the strengths of Lindsay and Dan, my two vocalists. In addition, they’re geared a bit more towards live performance – as fun as “The Bird Women of Golden Gate Park” and “Down By The Water” are, they’re not really songs that always come off amazingly live.

So, ton of new music there, as well as another cool project (or actually, series of projects) I’m working on with Khamara Pettus, the amazing actor/director/producer/force of nature with whom I’ve been working, scheming, planning over the past couple of months. We’re putting together some things to perform at the Brava Theatre, and I’ll have more on that stuff once it’s a bit more ready for the light of day. Suffice to say: it merges a lot of things about which I am quite passionate. Also, Khamara is a rock goddess.

Last, my odyssey into becoming a real-life drummer is all but complete – I’m confident now that I could hold it down in just about any bitchin’ rock band that’d have me. And I want them to have me. Do you know of a kick-ass, stripped-down, glammy rock punk freakout band, preferably with some female energy in the mix, that is in need of a tall, goofy drummer who makes up for his lack of extreme burning chops with energy and musicality? If so, A) I am surprised you know such a specific band and B) GIVE THEM MY NUMBER.

That’s All, Folks

So, that’s it for musical updates. I’ll post some demos and further thoughts on the new songs once I’ve got them in shape to share, and in the meantime, SFers come on out to the Rock Make Festival this Sunday and say hi!

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday

18 Feb

I am beyond excited for Sunday’s show – let me take a sec to tell you why.  Actually, if you know me at all, you won’t be surprised: I’m excited because of the super awesome band I get to play with.

We cranked out the set last night in rehearsal, and I continue to just feel so lucky to play with musicians who are so good that we only need to get together once to prepare a killer set.

I’ll be joined by Dan and Lindsay, singers from The Exited Door and extreme badasses, as well as my main man Dan Nervo on the guitar.  The set will be acoustic, so Nervo won’t get to do his shredding thing (and, alas, this force him to leave his beautiful new black Les Paul studio at home), but the guy picks a mean solo and is sounding amazing as always.

Also joining the band will be the amazing Daniel Fabricant on the upright bass, Tim McGregor on the drums, and the lovely and incredibly burning Marguerite Ostro on the violin. By adding drums to the acoustic band and removing some of the extra color instruments we had last time, we’ve got a much more focused sound, and the groove is really there. The western-swingish tunes we’re going to play – “The Darkened Street,” “Shoshana,” “North Kinser” – all finally sound as they were meant to.

I should mention that not only is Tim a burning drummer, he’s kind of the best digital graphics guy I’ve ever met. Like, four years ago he was a drummer on tour, opening for Dave Matthews with Jem, and now, well… check this out. It’s his demo reel for 2010, showing the projects he’s done over the past few years and edited together with such style and aplomb that… well, it’s pretty amazing.  Give it a sec to load, then take a gander - so hot right now.

What’s more, Sunday’s show will feature an opening set from the amazing Nice Guy Trio (with whom Daniel Fab also plays, along with trumpeter Darren Johnston and accordionist Rob Reich), and Darren and Rob are going to sit in with me, too!  I’ll also be playing a tune with the Nice Guys on tenor, accompanying the incredible Katy Stephan, who’ll be singing with them.

And that’s not even to mention the groovy headlining group Stitchcraft, or Master of Ceremonies Jeremy Dalmas, who promises to keep things really fun and loose all night, and the fact that the gig is a potluck, so there should be a ton of amazing food there (and you’ll get a discount if you bring something, too)!

God, do you need any more reasons to come out to this show?  No, you do not.  So come out!  There is a Facebook event with the info, it’s at the Make-Out room starting at 7:30 this Sunday.

Rock. Victory. Freedom. America.

The Exited Door, in Wordle

17 Sep

Thanks to Sonia for showing me Wordle.net, where I input all the text from my blog series on the creation of The Exited Door.

The Exited Door Wordle

Yeah, I'd say this about sums it up. (Click to enlarge.)

We’re Gonna Need A Montage

16 Sep

South Park Montage 2So, after cutting together a bunch of audio and video from the first-ever performance of “The Exited Door,” it became clear that I had too much of both – I couldn’t really imagine finishing, editing, and posting videos of every song, and I also couldn’t imagine everyone out there sitting there and watching that much video.

It was clear that there was only one thing to do. In the words of Trey Parker and Matt Stone:

The day is approaching
to give it your best
and you’ve got to reach your prime

that’s when you need
to put yourself to the test
and show us a passage of time

we’re gonna need a montage
(montage!)
a show-playing montage
(montage!!)

So, without further ado, I give you the official video montage of last week’s show.  It is seriously good times.

It, and other fun live videos, can all be found in widescreen on my YouTube Channel.  And if the montage-y-ness leaves you wanting to hear more, well… good! Only thing to do is come out to the next one!

Full Band Onstage 2

Here we go…

3 Sep

Well, then. Tonight’s the night.  The media’s on board – The Chronicle, Examiner.com, SFist, and, of course, the big feature in The SF Examiner… Wow. This is pretty much the biggest show I’ve ever done, in more ways than one.

So, if you’re reading this, you’re either A) in San Francisco and already coming, or B) live somewhere else, and are probably sick of hearing about the show, heh.  But I wanted to take a second here to reflect -

It’s been a long road and a lot of work to get to this point, and I couldn’t be more excited to play this music live, and with the instrumentation for which it was intended. I hope to see you there.

Rock!

Dan, Kirk and Lindsay

Can't wait, guys.

In The SF Examiner Today!

1 Sep

Today, The San Francisco Examiner printed Leslie Katz’s super-cool feature about The Exited Door, its creation, and Thursday’s show!  Leslie rules – it was a blast to talk with her about the album.

“I wanted to bring all the different types of music I love into one album,” says the songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, whose first musical success was as a jazz saxophonist (he earned a degree in jazz performance from the University of Miami School of Music). He doesn’t mind if his music is compared to that of Tom Waits, Sufjan Stevens, Stephen Sondheim or The Decemberists.

Still, “The Exited Door” remains a distinctly personal expression: “It’s a little autobiographical,” Hamilton says. “It’s about my early passionate rushes of music and romance. It’s songs about my experience.”

One thing it’s not is the culmination of his career.

The Inner Sunset resident — who loves being near Golden Gate Park — says, “I’m already thinking about newer, bigger things. I haven’t made my rock opera yet!”

Ha – yeah, wow, I really said that…  I guess the only thing to do now is write a rock opera, (and play it at Great American Music Hall).  Okay, it’s on.

Getting excited about Thursday’s show yet?  I sure as hell am.

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