Friday, December 9, 2011

WEGO: December 8th Enlighten Show!

Set 1 (52 megs)
Set 2 (59 megs)

Here are the recordings from WEGO's December 8th show at the Enlighten Cafe! The orchestra for the evening was Woody Frank (guitar and voice), Dennis Jolin (percussion), Ian McKagen (guitar and voice), Evan Strauss (bass and voice), and Me Woods (glockenspiel, trumpet, keys, assorted-percussion, and voice). We also finally ran a mic on a super-long daisy-chained cable all the way back to Emma behind the bar … hence the origin of much stellar vocal texture.

This wasn't a particularly strong night for me individually, but for the band and the sound as a whole I think it ranks up there with our very best shows. With Evan already masterfully filling the bass role after only two shows, I'm free to explore other niches. I guess it only makes sense that I would struggle a little in finding the right combination of instruments to work into the mix, but meanwhile the overall balance, cohesion, and energy of the sound just seem to keep deepening month after month! Even as the grooves become more relaxed and spacious, the funkitudinous momentum flows ever stronger. Feels like things are looking up and up for WEGO in the new year.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

WEGO: November Enlighten Show!

Set 1 (49 megs)
Set 2 (52 megs)

Here are the recordings from our November 10th show at the Enlighten Cafe. The orchestra for the evening consisted of Woody Frank (guitar and voice), Jenny Freeling (djembe), Sarah Gardener (sp? … first time out on banjo!), Dennis Jolin (uke and percussion), Ian McKagan (guitar and voice), Jesse Silvertrees (keys and voice), and Me Woods (bassbox and voice). Wow, that's a good-sized orchestra! Did I forget anybody? Oh yeah, Emma joined us again briefly during the second set too.

We transitioned pretty seamlessly from a chaotic last-minute setup straight into one of our best first sets ever. Woody was directly next to the board for this one, and seemed to be adjusting the mix throughout the evening, with indescribably beneficial results! Even with the extra-jumbo lineup, the mix felt balanced and well-supported throughout, and the playing responded in kind. Jesse and Woody had called out for some new lyrics, and so the three of us had each brought in a couple of new sheets to spring on the group. While I still value the possibilities that collective familiarity with a particular 'lyrical standard' can bring, the influx of fresh structures really seemed to launch us into a happy and synergistic place. With all of the recent shows, it seems we were ready for them, in a number of ways!

I also noticed two subtle changes that seemed to open things up: One was the increase in complicated and jazzy changes (lots of major 7ths and 9's), which just felt so rich with the easy momentum of the big group. And the other difference was signaling more of the changes to cycle at about half the rate that we usually cycle them (each chord held for two or more measures, instead of a quick 4-count).

This was a fairly inspired evening for me personally, on both bass and vocals (see "Whip It" or the first-set-closing "We Will Rock You", for example). I felt like we were all a bit spent after Set 1's climax -- certainly I was! -- and so the second set may have tapered off a little in cohesion, if not energy.  …though I haven't had a chance to listen through yet.  But all in all, this was right up there with our very best shows and another good omen of things to come!

Monday, November 7, 2011

WEGO: Nov 5th at Molly Maguire's

WEGO set (50 megs)

Here are the recordings from our Nov 5th opening slot for David Montgomery and Lark vs Owl at Molly Maguire's. The stripped-down orchestra for the evening included Jenny Freeling (djembe), Dennis Jolin (ukelele and assorted percussion), Jesse Silvertrees (keys and vocals), and Me Woods (bassbox and vocals).

This was my first time playing at Molly Maguire's -- though I think I may have seen a semi-acoustic show in the back room there towards the end of the '90s, back when it probably had a different name. I'd loooooove to play this place again! There was a huge, diverse, energetic, seemingly-walk-in crowd -- the sort of energy I haven't seen since the old Dubliner Pub at the bottom of Fremont hill. The stage is a bit tiny for our usual lineup (and even for the the 4-piece we had in effect on this particular evening), but we could get creative, right? Even the pesky intermittency of the PA turned out to be the result of my own defective 1/4 inch cord.

So yeah, this was a fun evening! We were certainly missing Woody and Ian from the core line-up (looking forward to this Thursday at the Enlighten!), but even the early parts, which felt almost painfully tentative at the time, have a solid mix and a nice rubbery bounce to them.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

WEGO: October 27th Enlighten Show!

Andrew's Opening Set (35 megs)
WEGO Set (88 megs)

Here are the recordings from our October 27th makeup show at the Enlighten Cafe! The six-piece orchestra for the evening included TQ Berg (guitar), Woody Frank (guitar and voice), Dennis Jolin (strings and percussion), Jesse Silvertrees (djembe and voice), Evan Strauss (acoustic 5-string bass), and Me Woods (guitar, percussion, and voice). Our barista for the evening, Emma, also joined us briefly with another absolutely stellar scat-vocal performance. Trust me, you'll know it when you hear it!

We were very excited to have both Evan joining us for the first time ever and TQ back after over a year's absence. Of course with two nearly-brand-new players, it took a few minutes to warm up, but I felt right at home after less than 10 minutes or so, and things just kept getting hotter all night. It was one of those shows where it felt like each movement was more free, energetic, and inspired than the last, driving straight through to our 10PM curfew. (Sorry for the large file! During our whole hour-and-20-ish-minute set, I think we only stopped playing once (I've edited a couple of those minutes out of the recording here to retain interest) and never actually left the stage.)

My half-hour opening set of guitar and voice included two firsts: a brand new tune called "I Don't Mind" (for now) and a cover of Alice in Chains' "Would".

Monday, October 3, 2011

WEGO: Last Drops of September at the Blue Moon Tavern

WEGO's set (39 megs)

Here are the recordings from our late September show at the Blue Moon Tavern. The orchestra for the evening was a quintet of Woody Frank (guitar and voice), Dennis Jolin (electro-uke), Ian McKagan (guitar and voice), Jesse Silvertrees (djembe and voice), and Me Woods (bassbox and voice).

If you've ever seen a show at the Blue Moon, I can say this went about like your average Blue Moon show, complete with technical difficulties, a distorted trebley mix and a crowd of lovable drunken freaks that makes it all worth it.  (... clearly this isn't us in the photo, but I love that this is the photo that the Blue Moon has at the top of its own web-page!)

Monday, September 26, 2011

WEGO: September Shipwreck!

Ian's Set (minus the first song) (42 megs)
Set 1a (27 megs)
Set 1b (20 megs)
Set 2 (23 megs)

Here's as much as we managed to record of our September 23rd show at the Shipwreck Tavern in West Seattle. The orchestra for the evening was our usual core quartet of Woody Frank (guitar and voice), Ian McKagan (guitar and voice), Jesse Silvertrees (djembe and voice), and Me Woods (bassbox and voice). Ian played a relaxed and moody set of guitar-and-voice to open the evening.

Longevity of my recharge-ables had dropped to an all new low, and so a couple of significant portions of the show were not recorded: a chunk in the middle of the first set -- before I got up to change the batteries -- and the second half of the second set -- when the backup batteries died too.  (Missing the first song of Ian's set was my bad.)  The new batteries I've ordered should be here in time for this Thursday's show at the Blue Moon -- where we'll play for so little time that it shouldn't be an issue ;)).

It was a warm wonderful evening, and this show was very poorly attended … connected facts … who knows…?  But thanks to the fantastic hospitality of Chips and Chris, and the generosity of the gullible few who did turn up, we had a good time anyway.

There was also some slightly unbalanced enthusiasm from a guy who first arrived during the set-break and tried to get a few of us to donate to the peewee baseball team he claimed to be coaching (a 20-something "bro" who didn't seem to fit the part), and ended the evening shouting "you guys hate art!!" at the bar-tender after he jumped up on stage to freestyle and had his mic cut off. He came back a few minutes later and tried to smooth everything over … an interesting guy for sure!

Friday, September 9, 2011

WEGO: September Enlighten Show

Set 1 (53 megs)
Set 2 (29 megs)

Here are the recordings from our September show at the Enlighten Cafe. The quartet for the evening was Woody Frank (guitar and voice), Ian McKagen (guitar and voice), Jesse Silvertrees (keys and voice), and Me Woods (bassbox and voice).

Audience turnout was exceptionally sparse (the temperature had been in the mid-80's all week, and perhaps people were outside enjoying the last of Summer), but for those who came it was a strong and slightly-unusual show. With Jenny and Dennis missing and with Jesse rocking the keys (instead of djembe), it was a harmonically-rich sound that suffered surprisingly little from lack of groove. …not that we won't be psyched to have our missing regulars back, mind you!

#$%&^*, the batteries died on the recorder again!! (Note to self: need a new set of NI-MH 2700ma AA rechargables.) However, I swear the recorder held on until roughly 1 second after the last note of Ian's country/jazz-hall "Crazy Train", which was arguably the top standard of the evening. So all is forgiven, little recorder. After that, we congratulated ourselves for at least a couple of minutes and then played a little less than 15 minutes more -- the bit that's missing from the recording here.

Emma (the new barista) joined us on vocals for the first bit of the second set. We always enjoy this sort of thing, but I was quickly surprised by her voice-control and sophisticated harmonic palette. Check out the extended scat-solo at the end of "Disco Inferno". Sounds like she's going to be the regular Thursday barista for a while, so we're planning to run a super-long mic to the bar, so she can join in at will.

Finally, this was my first show with the electric pickup on the bassbox. As a single-coil jazz-bass pickup, it's naturally a little noisy, but nothing that doesn't get quickly buried when the other players join in. And you can really hear the improved low-end warmth, especially during the second set.  Hell, I made it through both sets with no blisters!  I'll be glad to have the increased headroom going into our two bar-shows at the end of the month.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Coastal Guitar-and-Voice Improv

Moclips Moth Attack 1 (8 megs)
Moclips Moth Attack 2 (4 megs)

Here are a couple of improvised guitar-and-voice clips from the first night of our recent family-trip to the Washington coast. We arrived at the house-on-the-beach that Tina's family had rented by mid-evening. And by about 9pm or so, we were settled in enough that I was able to escape to the sea-side porch for a few minutes of screwing around on the guitar. You can hear the steady surf in the background, but even with a ridiculously overpowered porch-floodlight aimed straight at the beach, a thick mist completely hid all but the first several yards of grassy dunes from view. However, above my head and stretching a hundred feet out behind the house, this crazy light created a giant conical glow in the fog, within which hundreds of moths flitted about in the night air. Eventually the swarm attracted at least 1 acrobatic species of small bird (swifts…?) who proceeded to unleash a circus of dramatic lurching sweeps through the cone, attempting to pick the insects out of mid-air.

You may notice that this isn't my most inspired lyrical improv, but there are some fun musics here … and the waves and ambient air are just a hair more interesting than uniform white-noise.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

WEGO: August Enlighten Show

Set 1 (41 megs)
Set 2 (53 megs)

Here are the August recordings from WEGO's regular 2nd-Thursday gig at the Enlighten Cafe! The Orchestra for the evening included Woody Frank (guitar and voice), Ian McKagan (guitar and voice), Jesse Silvertrees (djembe, melodica, and voice) and Me Woods (bassbox and voice). We were also thrilled to have Patrick Lenon (assorted percussion) sitting in with us for the first set.

Even though I was still just about alone at 10-till-eight, by 8:15 the place was packed, and the hastily assembled group kicked right into an extra strong first-set. (I did clip out a short break early in the first set where we stopped to adjust the mix a bit … it turned out I had powered-down the left speaker at the end of sound-check and had forgotten to turn it back on again.)

The second set was perhaps a bit less consistent but still featured plenty of high-peaks of cohesion. And I have a suspicion that even the bits where the band may have felt a bit lost had their own peculiar musicality from the other side of the white-boards. In my view, the strongest aspect of our sound this particular evening was clearly the vocal harmonization. WOW, did the dense brassy harmonies all just seem to gel beyond the expected possibilities of improv at times!

(Obligatory bass-box tone-discussion paragraph:) This was my first mic'd show with the round-wound steel strings on the bass-box, and it was a heeee-yuuuuuge improvement. The tone was maybe still a little under-defined, but for once I had volume to spare! By the end of the night, I almost wished I hadn't ordered an electric pickup for it, but I think the pickup will probably give me even more of what I'm looking for. So I'll try to make a removable installation for that sometime before our September show.

Finally, apologies for the low-bitrate sound of the second set! … somehow in changing the batteries, the input levels got bumped down to the point where I'm needing to both compress and boost around 20db just to get it to roughly match the first set … sadness … though certainly better than losing it entirely.

(Special thanks to Marisa for the photos!)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

WEGO: Planet Home

Planet Home Recording (53 megs)

Here is the recording of our all-acoustic trio set from Sustainable NE Seattle's August 6th "Planet Home" event! The micro-orchestra for the day included Woody Frank (guitar and voice), Jesse Silvertrees (djembe and voice) and Me Woods (bass-box and voice).

The weather was just about perfect, shifting from pleasantly overcast to sunny and sweat-inducingly-warm sometime during our set. We played from roughly 1:00-2:00pm on a partially screened little patch of gravel facing a small cluster of tables ringed by strawbale benches. And we had a great crowd at first, as visitors grabbed lunch from the taco stand or free tea from the local tea guy and sat down to watch for a bit. The set starts surprisingly strong for a trio doing what we're trying to do! We maybe fizzled out a little bit sometime after the halfway mark as it got hotter and many of the listeners headed out to the next round of workshops os just to say hi to the goats. (Though multiple people told me it sounded great from other parts of the property as they were milling around.)

Not sure how often I'll do this, but since it's easy for this one, here's a rough breakdown of what we played: Every Little Thing (Is Gonna Be Alright) --> Light My Fire (w' Disco Inferno) --> Crazy Train --> percussion breakdown --> Sustainable Dave --> Beyonce --> Eye of the Tiger --> Feel Like Makin' Love, Pour Some Sugar (1st verse only) --> Rehab.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Chez Amandes (Beezer and 5-Track Come to Town)!

Clip 1 (50 megs)
Clip 2 (79 megs)
Clip 3 (25 megs)

Here's as much as I was able to record of a beautiful all-afternoon jam at Gerry Amandes's's's studio on Sunday, July 31st. The event was timed to take advantage of the simultaneous local materialization of 5-track (LA) and John Beezer (NY, NY), but also drew heavily from a jumbo pool of local Seattle improvisers, including Ian, Woody, and me (all from WEGO). With my atrocious name-recall and the likelihood of forgetting or incriminating somebody, I won't even try to list all of the participants, but it was great to reconnect with those that I hadn't seen in years(!) and to meet a few new and bright faces. (If you were there and don't mind identifying yourself, please sign in in the comments down there at the bottom.)

Special huge thanks to Gerry for offering his studio for this!! It had been several years since I'd been there and I thought perhaps I'd overblown the perfection of the space in my interim memory, but WOW, if anything it was even warmer and more fully appointed than before. I won't get into specifics, but the whole space feels lovingly constructed for freakish sound-support and flexibility of configuration. With an average of 7-10 players at a time, frequently shifting stations, we were never isolated nor crowded. And the whole space just feeeels fantastic.

Music started bubbling up some-time around 3:30-ish(?) and it was still cooking along when Tina and Lucy picked me up at around 7:00pm. So this huge download may only be a fraction of the whole event…? However, this recording does capture just about everything that happened while I was there. The hard-drive on my little recorder ran out of space just as I was packing up to leave. And the breaks between tracks here were simply paranoid attempts to bracket off and preserve recordings. In each case, I started it up again immediately, so not much is lost (… hopefully the breaks make for less of a monolithic download as well).

As with most large-group improv, there's not a whole lot of chordal movement here (with a few dramatic exceptions!).  A sizeable percentage of it was variations on some flavor of modal minor. But the players were all adept enough to extend and imply changes with various dimensions of tension and release.

With how much material there is here, I'm tempted to cull out and present only a few 10-minute clips of the highest peaks of synergy. (… and I may still do that) But I suspect that most of the audience for these recordings will be the players that were there and the people that they send to this page, so for now I'm just posting the whole crazy soup in order to give everyone the best chance of finding the morsels that they remember most fondly.

Friday, July 29, 2011

WEGO: July 27th Rehearsal

Clip 1 (7 megs)
Clip 2 (2 megs)
Clip 3 (8 megs)
Clip 4 (27 megs)
Clip 5 (21 megs)

Here are the recordings from WEGO's July 27th 4-piece rehearsal for our upcoming all-acoustic performance at Sustainable NE Seattle's annual summer event on August 6th. In attendance was a quartet of Woody Frank (guitar and voice), Ian McKagan (guitar and voice), Jesse Silvertrees (keys, djembe, and voice), and Me Woods (bassbox and voice).

The vibe throughout was … well, let's just call it pleasantly disorganized. ;)) But the high-points were quite high indeed!

I don't think I fully appreciated the first third or so of this session, since a decent portion of my focus was on assessing the performance of the bass-box in its new steel-string (round-wound) configuration -- as well as the overall sound for the upcoming show. And things really *do* pick up noticeably as we go (I've even cut out a few signaling train-wrecks and such from early in the evening). But listening back, the first movements are great too in their own tentative way.

Here's a quick guide to what went down:

clip 1: Rehab, by Amy Winehouse (first time played)
clip 2: Rainbow Connection (just a shred of this is left here after removing various doldrums and signaling-trainwrecks)
clip 3: Droppin' the Deuce (don't ask me why I didn't cut this one out … it should be obvious! … actually, in all seriousness, this is probably the movement that loosened us up for what followed)
Between clips 3 and 4 I tuned up to standard 4-string bass tuning in an attempt to increase the volume. (I took out the bridge-bracing at the end of the evening, revealing an even louder bass-rich tone, but none of that is recorded. I don't think…)
Clip 4: Summertime, Sexy Back (probably my ballsiest, most-soulful delivery of this one yet), Eggplant (a tune by Woody … first time played and chock-full of swanky jazz vocal-harmonies!)
Clip 5: Ocean Waves, and something I'll just call "Free Dingy" for now (something that Jesse wrote by compiling the sleep-talking of his girlfriend).

While we probably won't go as far as to "drop a deuce", some of the sound and harmony from the later movements here have me thinking that next week's set should be a lot of fun.  (Send me your suggestions for 'Lyrical Standards' suited to a day of sustainability workshops!)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

WEGO: July 14th Enlighten Show!

Woody's Set (32 megs)
WEGO Set (82 megs)

Here are the recordings from WEGO's July show (and Woody's opening set) at the Enlighten Cafe! The full six-piece lineup was in effect for this one, including Woody Frank (acoustic steel-string, tamborine, and voice), Jenny Freeling (djembe), Dennis Jolin (uke, percussion, voice), Ian McKagen (electric guitar and voice), Jesse Silvertrees (djembe, dumbek, voice, etc…), and Me Woods (electric bass, leg percussion, and voice).

Woody played another fantastic and diverse set to kick things off, including a couple of favorites, a couple of surprising covers and at least a couple of other tunes that I'd never heard before. I think he has an acoustic album coming out soon! If it has half of the breadth, power, and ease of his live work, this should be one to pick up. (Unfortunately, I mistakenly thought I had already started the recording before his set, but it turned out it was just in standby mode until I double-checked near the beginning of his second tune … so there's a bit missing here.)

After that we launched a solid 70-minutes-or-so of WEGO. I slept on my homeward bus while listening to this set get started the other night, and my first impressions were that it was an unusually relaxed and dreamy show. Tentative beats built shifting vistas as Ian's rhythmic and spiraling guitar melodies wound their way into the morphing voices of my half-conscious mind.

It was my second show with the electric 5-string that I had borrowed from work, and for some reason a bunch of us decided to stand up to play. This combo seemed extra conducive to a certain danceable funk, but also seemed to revive my difficulties with playing bass and singing (not to mention limiting my ability to rock the foot-percussion as consistently). Part of it might be that the bass was actually loud enough that it seemed important that I maintain a consistent loop to my lines … which maybe encourages me to fit the words in around the bass, as opposed to the other way around.

Listening back, I'm enjoying the percussion variety throughout the sonic field and the grooves and changes are rich as ever. But I'm also noticing that there just wasn't much vocal cohesion on this one … perhaps it was the standing…? For whatever reason, we very rarely built up any kind of harmonization or even our usual cascading 'rounds'. So, not a bad show by any stretch, but perhaps a little light on one of the major elements that makes us unique.

But man was it good to play with this group again! Five weeks is too long. I'm glad to see some increased frequency on the horizon.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Solstice-Proximal Guitar-and-Voice Improv

Giraffe (4 megs)
Battery Plan (4 megs)
Sweeping Up (3 megs)

Here's some late-night guitar-and-voice improv from this past Sunday night. I was only out in the shed for about 15 minutes, so the musical events here happened in pretty quick succession. But I've broken them up along the loose boundaries between themes. (…because I like to force people to download multiple files for no real reason) Should I go into the origins of the lyrics? … I think it might be more fun if I don't at this point.

But will that stop me…? mmmmaybe

for now…

The top photo up there is the last bit of sunlight bleeding over the horizon from our west-facing backyard at 10:10-ish PM. At the left is our 5-year-old cob wall, and at the right is the newly renovated version of what I used to call the "rat shack". Although the extree-gnarly vibe of yore was a lot of fun to play music in, the newer and less-porous vibe is better in just about every other way. And it still sounds pretty okay in there!

more clues:

later in the summer, I'll probably try some recording in the workshop space that's walled off behind the wall holding up those ladders over there ... it still has more of the original un-painted, hyper-distressed wood vibe (though now encased in some less permeable siding) ... so far, I've just been setting up on the gravel in front of the wheelbarrow, facing into the other leg of the storage-"L" on the left back there.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

WEGO: June Enlighten Show! (and Andrew's solo opener)

Andrew's Set (33 megs)
WEGO Set (82 megs)

Here are the recordings of my opening solo-guitar-and-voice set and the full WEGO set from our June show at the Enlighten Cafe!

Both Jesse and Jenny were out illin' for this one, so it was a jaunty quartet of Woody Frank (guitar, tambourine, and voice), Dennis Jolin (guitar, uke, timbales, assorted percussion, and voice), Ian McKagen (guitar and voice), and Me Woods (electric bass, foot-percussion, and voice) -- plus the peripheral addition of Jennifer Ng on assorted percussion (but more on that later). Without our usual dual-djembe groove-attack, this one was a little lighter on the tribal momentum. And generally, if this is your first time here in a while or if you've followed my link to this page to try to determine if we might be a good fit for your venue, then please jump down to any of the two previous WEGO posts for a better representation of the current flavor. But for those familiar with the 6+ piece group, I think there are still plenty of enjoyable moments here!

But hopping over to the flip-side for a moment, the opener was probably my best solo set yet! Part of it is me just getting fed up with songs that have just been limping along in this format and finally kicking them out of the rotation, but it also feels like I'm sitting in a much less self-conscious place with "solo guitar-and-voice". In fact, I'm actually breathing and enjoying it now! So perhaps there will even be some new material for next time…? (The clip here is the complete unedited set, except for removing some speculation as to exactly who "Texas" was written about...)

But back to the WEGO set! This was my first WEGO show with the electric bass, and while I would really miss certain aspects of the bass-box, I really do think that the characteristics of the electric are better suited to providing a fat and versatile foundation for our sound. Wow, there really is a bass-hole where the recorder was! … but even so, in this one you can hear the sweet, farty support of the electric most of the time. (With how round Ian's electric tone was, there are places where we get a little tangled up when he's playing low on the neck, but I think you can still hear what I'm talking about.) And after a bit of testing at home, it seems that the intermittent signal-dropouts were just a faulty cord, so it should be rock-solid for the next one.

Typically awesome stuff from Woody and Ian here, but special thanks to Dennis for stepping up and bringing his own palette to the percussion (and even singing from time to time!)!

But yes, Five's friend and percussionist Jennifer Ng happened to be visiting from Singapore for this one, and if I had read my emails a bit more carefully it seems we could've had her up on stage with a complete percussion rig! Doh!! But even as it was, we managed to lure her into bringing a few miscellaneous pieces to her seat and adding her tastefully-crafted percollating high-end wash from the middle of the house. It was a great first connection, and I'm hoping we'll have another visit from her very soon!

One other random tidbit: I had built a strange frankensteined acoustic pedal-powered percussion thingy (photo above), with a splash-shaker sound on one of the pedals and my largest (and fairly broken) woodblock-frog mounted to the other side for more of a "thock". I didn't play it more than 3 or 4 times over the course of the evening (26:00-ish, for instance) but it seemed to provide a nice accent and push some interesting syncopation into the bass whenever I did.

Alright GEEEEEEEEZ enough of my thoughts! What are your impressions?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

WEGO: Two Books Enter, One Book Leaves!

Set 1 (42 megs)
Set 2 (62 megs)

Here are the recordings from WEGO's June 2nd performance at the Richard Hugo House for their annual event, "Two Books Enter, One Book Leaves". What a cool space this was to play in! A modest but fully-equipped stage in front of an open sun-bathed room of tables was sized perfectly for the 6 of us to squeeze in a gentle arc and do our thing while the event took place in front of us.

Given the early weekday start time of 5:30 and other assorted adventures and obstacles, the music built rather gradually from just Dennis and me to the gradual arrivals of Jenny, Ian, Woody, and finally Jesse. I may include the steady climb as a bonus clip here soon, but for now the first-set clip picks up with the arrival of Woody and the commencement of full-blown WEGO-style shenanigans. Since the intent was mostly to serve as background entertainment, we planned for a low-volume mostly-acoustic format. A few times during crescendos, I'm sure Woody would've appreciated the dynamic flexibility of having his guitar plugged into the PA, but the open-air vocals actually work pretty well here! I'm a little nervous that we'd tend to turn up past shouting-range at some gigs, but the rootsy -- and occasionally choral -- feel of harmonies sung straight-to-the-room make me want to try this at the Enlighten Cafe some time.

Wow, I'm really liking what we did for this one! The sound is energetic but responsive throughout. There's a tone of whole-hearted celebration that nevertheless apparently left space for small groups of people who had never heard us before to comfortably settle themselves at tables near the stage and peripherally enjoy the vibes. Would people dance at this volume? I'm not sure … but it seemed to work perfectly for this particular event.

At the time, I felt like the first set had been much stronger than the second, but while Set 1 may be a bit more coherent and seems to have the tightest lyrical-standard-interpretations of the evening, the second set has an undeniable bacchanalian charm, even in its roughest moments (the mid-set instrument swap ;)).

Thanks to Dennis (missing in this next one) for the photos!

And just in case you happen to see this right after I post it (hopefully Weds night), don't forget to come to our monthly Cafe Enlighten gig tomorrow, Thursday, June 9th, 2011! I'll be doing the opening set at 8pm, followed by as much WEGO as we can fit in by 10:00.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Andrew Woods: May Guitar-and-Voice Happenings

May 27th Guitar and Voice Set (34 megs)
May Guitar Storage (7 megs)

Here are a pair of guitar-and-voice recordings from late May.

The first track here is most of my opening set for Lark vs. Owl (a fantastic duo featuring WEGO's Dennis Jolin and his partner in decibel-crimes, Matt) on Friday, May 27th at the Enlighten Cafe. Both I and 'Lark vs. Owl' had clusters of shows around the same time as this one, and so this poor little Enlighten show was probably a little neglected in terms of promotion. But the small group that did make it comprised an intimate and attentive audience! My set ran about 40 minutes, but I've trimmed out some of the banter and completely removed 'Anyday Traffic' (which I've finally decided just doesn't work in its current arrangement) … in the hope of providing a slightly more compact listening experience here. Highlights for me include 'Ocean Waves', 'Under the Tent', and the 911 pocket-dial from my new phone at the top of the set.

The second clip is an edited chunk of one of the late-night guitar-and-voice garage sessions I've been trying to fit in a couple times a week. With how frequently I've been doing these, you'd think this would be an especially choice morsel, but since I've been doing exactly zero notating of these recordings, the selection here was chosen more or less at random and then just edited down a bit to improve momentum. Nonetheless, it's a little window into my otherwise windowless (though now considerably more rat-free) garage at a time when I happened to be there.

If you'd like to hear more of this type of thing in person, my recent cluster of shows continues for one more week still as I'll be playing the opening set for the monthly WEGO slot at the Enlighten Cafe this coming Thursday, June 9th. Show up at 8pm to hear a short set of guitar-and-voice, and stay until 10pm to hear the sounds of the ever-evolving WEGO!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

WEGO: May 12th Enlighten Show!

Ian's Set (51 megs)
WEGO set (68 megs)

Here are the recordings from WEGO's May show at the Enlighten Cafe! Ian McKagen played a sweet, extended-and-completely-unamplified guitar-and-voice set to kick things off, followed by about an hour of the Woodland Experimental Groove Orchestra. Orchestra-members for the evening included Woody Frank (guitar and voice), Jenny Freeling (djembe), Dennis Jolin (various and sundry), Ian McKagen (guitar and voice), Jesse Silvertrees (djembe and voice), and Me Woods (bass-box and voice).

Some great collective harmony and momentum here, and also plenty of typically-surprising spontaneous departures. Highlights for me included the debut of 2 brand new lyrical standards ('Poker Face' and 'Workin for the Weekend'), a solid round of "Boom Chaca-Laca", and another strong final gag -- rewinding the clock from 10:01 back to 10pm. Ian led one of our most ecstatic versions of the Beyonce tune to date. And Dennis brought out a tiny battery-powered amp that hung off the bottom of his guitar and uke. With combinations of that and some of his more portable percussion, he then "took it on the road", extending the groove to various parts of the house with his own roving "surround speaker".

Sadly, I'm noticing that the bass-box is having a hard time keeping up. (Was it that buried in the house?  It didn't *seem* that buried at the time, but maybe it's because I was sitting directly on it ... or the recorder was in some sort of low end frequency-cancellation hole…?) I know that when we're quiet enough to hear the hand-drums well, I can get plenty of low-end (100-hz) push, but even with the new EQ, it just doesn't have enough 600-hz growl to bring the funk. :( I'm gonna try a couple of things, but I'm considering a switch to electric … or maybe I'll try out the key-bass again.  That could be cool.  We'll see. Regardless, just having the vocals up to a decent level seems to keep it entertaining!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

WEGO: April 14th Enlighten Show!

Opening Set by Jesse and Jenny (25 megs)
WEGO Set (91 megs)

Here are the recordings from our April 14th show at the Enlighten Cafe! Jesse and Jenny did a short opening set of lush dynamic arrangements, full of both passion and restraint, and crowned by some truly moving rising swells of rhythm and harmony. After that, WEGO played a single 80-minute-ish set, broken only briefly at the mid-point to overwrite a few of the items on the boards.

Dennis was out with explosive barfing for this one, so the lineup was: Woody Frank (acoustic 6-string and voice), Jenny Freeling (djembe and voice), Ian McKagen (electric guitar and voice), Jesse Silvertrees (keys, djembe, and voice) and Me Woods (bassbox and voice).

I'm still finding myself a bit overwhelmed with a wealth of bus-projects, so I'll restrict my core commentary to that for now. However! I would like to take a tiny bit of space here to double my pleas to for you to share your impressions below in the comments. Even though I *know* people are downloading these, the main text has gotten a little lonely here recently (sniff), so if you were there at the time or get a chance to check out the recordings, consider adding a quick footnote and letting us know what part you found most memorable (or simply finishing Ian's pre-show limerick).

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Fever Break

Fever Break (3 megs)

April 1st marked day number 14 or so with my bottomless-yellow-snot-and-low-grade-fever buzz. However, April 1st was also the release date of my debut guitar-and-voice release, and I was feeling pretty jazzed in spite of my condition. I channeled a little bit of my release-day energy into about 20 minutes of guitar-and-voice improv in our sun-room, recorded direct through the board. Wow, do I love the sound of that stereo (humbucker and condenser) acoustic pickup!

Above is an edited mix of not even the stupidest part of what happened there. As with the album track about my hat, this was just the very first thing out of my mouth … it took several more minutes to warm up into the extra stupid stuff.

Monday, March 14, 2011

WEGO: 1st Monthly Enlighten Show!

Woody's Set (37 megs)
WEGO Set 1 (60 megs)
WEGO Set 2 (23 megs)

Here are the recordings from the first in our ongoing run of shows (2nd Thursday of every month!) at the Enlighten Cafe! Woody played a fantastic opening set to kick things off a little before 8pm, and then WEGO played what was essentially a single hour and a quarter set, with a brief on-stage break to add a few new chord-changes to the boards. I'm going to try to hold off and leave some space for people to call out the highlights in the comments below, but I personally reeeeeally enjoyed this night. :)) It felt like the recent adjustments we've made are really opening things up beautifully.  And the additional percussion (see lineup notes below) magically agitates the itch to dance … at least in my head when I listen back … no actual upright dancers this time, but it feels like we'll be supporting them well next time they step up.

Orchestra for the evening was Woody Frank (guitar and voice), Jenny Freeling (djembe), Dennis Jolin (percussion and uke), Ian McKagen (guitar and voice), Jesse Silvertrees (keys, djembe, and voice) and Me Woods (bass-box and voice).

So yeah, whether you were there at the time or are downloading from afar, I invite you to give us a glimpse of your view in the comments below!

Monday, March 7, 2011

WEGO: March 1st Rehearsal

Set 1 (58 megs)
Set 2 Condensed (20 megs)

I know I say this a lot, but from my perspective, this was another big breakthrough rehearsal! We made couple of specific focus changes here, with the aim of increasing groove and the idiosyncracy of our interpretations of the Lyrical Standards. I'm going to try an experiment and not bore you with the details for a change, but suffice it to say that it seemed like a success to me. With the new foci, you'll see it takes us perhaps a bit longer than usual to warm up into full vocal interplay, but the grooves are indeed deeper and more open and it's a bit of an understatement to say that the vocal stylings were idiocyncratic!

The orchestra for the evening was Woody Frank (guitar and voice), Jenny Freeling (back on djembe!), Ian McKagen (guitar and voice), Jesse Silvertrees (keys, some djemb, and voice), and Me Woods (bassbox and voice). We spent quite a while setting up in a more realistic stage-configuration and discussing the focus changes we wanted to make, but still managed to fit in a short set and an even shorter set. The second set started as more of a "let's do one more little experiment" sorta thing and maintained that vibe throughout, so I edited some of the noodling and banter out here in order to bring you the bizarrely inspired remnants.

For me, in addition to the increased sparseness and funkitude, the high points of the evening both came from the voice of Ian McKagen, who closed Set 1 with a deeply disturbing mellow-death-metal version of 'Rainbow Connection' and jumped up early in Set 2 with a ween-esque country rendition of "Crazy Train". Oh man, also I'm just remembering, Woody set up a soooper soulful version of Electric Avenue mid way through the first set. … so sweet.

Call out your own high(or low)lights here in the comments, and please join us for the very first in an ongoing series of monthly shows -- 2nd Thursdays!! -- at the Enlighten Cafe in Ballard, this Thursday, March 10th!

Friday, February 25, 2011

WEGO: February Birthday Glow

BS Box (1 meg)
Sound Check (4 megs)
Set 1 (71 megs)
Set 2 (55 megs)
Set 3 (16 megs)

Here are more than enough recordings from the strange and powerful "February birthdays" house-party we played on the 19th. The whole thing went down at the same house as the Halloween party. The most notable setting differences this time were the new acoustic format and the party's strict glowstick-and-candle-only lighting scheme. By the second set, our eyes had grown so comfortable in the dark that the headlamps that we were wearing to light up the signal boards felt like searing spotlights.

Speaking of birthdays, has it been a year now since we started this project? If not, it's definitely getting close. And it still feels like it's evolving quite quickly. Yes!

So much went down at this party that I'll let the recordings speak for themselves. It's pretty easy to hear the ebb and flow of energy. Most of both the highs *and* the lows come in sets 2 and 3 (really just a brief water-break between them). …from oddball inspirations like "Holy Shit, This is It!", "Jesse's Sweet Sweet Groove" (my personal high-point of the night) and my weirdly entertaining duet with Woody on Justin Timberlake's "Sexy Back" to the occasional vocal breakdown that may have overstayed its welcome. (There's sooooo much I'm not mentioning though! By all means, call yours out in the comments below.)

I played this show with a new EQ pedal for the bass-box that gives me a significantly increased amount of tonal/volume control, but there are still a couple of things that I want to try to tweak with the overall group sound. Hopefully at our next rehearsal. It was a rowdy enough party (with huuuuuuuuge electronic music playing during our breaks) that it's a little hard to guage our sonic effectiveness for the event, but I did get plenty of sincere compliments in addition to the undeniable compliment of frequent dancing listeners. I feel like we might've supported them a little better, but I'm grateful for their commitment nonetheless!

Again, I was the only one with a real vocal mic, so you'll hear our recently customary group shout-singing throughout. It actually works surprisingly well! But I'm beginning to think we've outgrown it and could really improve our range with a full set of mics. (The rest of the singers are just too versatile to reduce to the top 1/4 of their dynamic range!)

This is mostly "as it happened", though I *have* edited some of the crowd banter out here and there to protect the guilty. Whether you were there or not, let us know what you think!