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!