Technology. Technology is allowing me to type this on my stupid cell phone in the middle of a show! AMAZING!
Today’s song is so special, it’s crazy. Tonight, we are in Asheville, NC. We drove here after a two-day stint in Greensboro helping out our friend Harvey Robinson. I mentioned him and his production company, Monkeywhale, in an earlier post. Well, last night during our Greensboro show, I busted my C string, the cello’s thickest string, right in the middle if the set. Today, as I was putting on a new string, Harvey came up and said, “Have you done your song of the day yet?” “No”, I said. “I want to film the song today!” “I haven’t started it yet,” I replied. “Just improvise it…”
Well, I did. And he filmed me doing it. Harvey has been awake for nearly 3 days now with only a few naps because of the 48 Hour Film Project – and he is still in a great mood! Thank you, Harvey for capturing a 365 song in such a beautiful way.
I missed yesterday… but would you believe me if I told you I actually worked on SEVERAL songs yesterday, just can’t show them to you… You should believe it because it’s true!
Pearl and the Beard is in Greensboro, North Carolina working with Harvey Robinson/Monkeywhale Productions on his 48 Hour Film. If you’ve never heard of the 48 Film Festival, you can research it here and be enthused and blown away. It’s an amazing feat of artistry that must be completed in 48 hours. For more about the festival click HERE.
Well, we were recruited by dear friend Harvey to help on the soundtrack to his film this year. We showed up yesterday at noon, ate lunch and headed to the studio where Ben Singer, Wayne Reich, and Matty Sheetz were there waiting for us to arrive. Truthfully, I was worried this was going to be a painful experience. I’ve done soundtracks to film, and it can be as slow as tar, tedious and frustrating. But I was welcomed with the warming arms of organization: these guys were amazing. They were ready with ideas they had recorded before we got there, and, though they hadn’t seen the footage to what they were scoring, they had ideas and were moving on them. Wayne is a wonderful violinist, and we were able to do some free improvisation together as a violin/cello duet, which I haven’t done in such a long time. Free-improvisation is so… well… freeing. If you have the inclination to do it with anyone using any instrument, I highly encourage you to find a friend and just play!
Rule #1 to Free Improvisation:
There are NO WRONG NOTES. There are NO mistakes.
A personal guideline I have when doing free improv is to listen. Listen to what your partner is doing. React. Remember you are not playing by yourself. Space is also a great tool, especially when recording a free-improv. With including space in a performance you can cut sections and move them around where necessary.
We finished around 9:30 pm. Late last night we were able to hear a rough mix of what we had done during the day. I wish I could post the duet for you to hear: what a cool moment! We did several takes of it, each one different in its own way.
Speaking of improv – done in only a few minutes, the song today is improvised everything. Sometimes things just come to you and you can craft them into something wonderful. You feel the movement forward and you pat yourself on the back a little. But sometimes, there is the hugest brick slamming over and over into your brain prohibiting any ideas from coming forth. This is where I am. This is where I have been for several months. The best way out? Just do it. Keep doing it. Keep working through it. So, here is an improvised, one-take song, Disease.
We are getting ready to leave ASAP. So, I created the beat base in Garageband in less than 5 minutes and asked Jocelyn to rap because she’s a genius. Jeremy, as usual, is an awesome hype-man. We used the internal mic of Jeremy’s computer, though I underestimated how great it was and sat a little too close. Jeremy didn’t know Garageband had beats. He is now quitting the band to become a rap star. Good luck, man.
We leave for Lexington, VA today for a house show. I love house shows as they never seem to disappoint and people are always so kind.
I am up early like usual this morning. I have guests, and this is slightly problematic for recording, so I’m going to need to improvise. It is very unusual that I run into someone (who often isn’t in their retirement years) that wakes up as early as me, but I find that my new street wakes up with me. At around 7 am loud music announces the morning. The other day it was a guy walking around with a boombox playing REM’s “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It” (that was at 6:30). This morning it was a white car with an excellent sound system parked right across the street hitting the rap.
After the morning call of music comes the voices. Locals are already awake, sitting on the stoop, chatting it up. This morning I heard the words, “Jail”, “Murder”, “Hardware store”, “I gotta get paid”, in between shots of laughter sprinkled with a bit of cussing. All of those words, mind you, were not related to one another within the conversation, though I could start a whole new rumor about something going down at the hardware store down the street. But I would want to include a mermaid: every good story has a mermaid.
Today marks the first day of Pearl and the Beard’s second leg of tour. I know. That’s weird. We intended on a full two weeks including dates up in Canada, but they didn’t pan out. I secretly attribute it to a fiasco I got myself into a few years ago trying to do a solo show up in Toronto. I tried to cross the border at Niagra Falls. They said, “Why are you coming here?” Now, what I should have said was… nothing. But instead I said something to the effect of, “Oh, you know, playing a Radiohead show.” Never. Never. Never use sarcasm at the boarder. Never. Needless to say, I was kicked out post haste. Did the Canadians know Pearl and the Beard wanted to play there? Do they have plants who report back to them? (I’ve made a few sketchy Canadian friends in my life (Erin A., Stephen M., Kayson B. [okay, Kayson is only sort of a Canadian]). I’m forming a belief they are spies set to destroy…or at least entertain me.
Today’s song will be dedicated to those officers… particularly the hottie in the booth who initially pulled me aside.
I wrote this in about 10 minutes. The great thing about music is that you can put three chords together and have a song. Quick. Cause that’s what I need. The cheer in the end is from my visiting anthropologist-sister-in-law Bonnie. Recorded once and I didn’t even bother editing it because a song about Canada should only take one time with no editing. Sorry about the internal mic use – I hate it so much.
See you on the road! Pearl and the Beard leaves in 20 minutes for Pittsburgh, PA…check out the schedule here: www.pearlandthebeard.com
Oh Canada you kicked me out
An officer, he cast his doubt
On me, on me
Sarcastically, proclaimed my stay
A free, fine show to my dismay
Was my mistake
I called for help, you ran from me
Cried out your name, beyond the sea
But you wained, you wained
Passport sports a large black spot
Upon it now reads, “Enter Not”
Such a fool, to believe…Oh, Canada
Oh Canada, gave me the boot
The officer was super cute
Thought I could win with a smile
No matter my coquettishness
They sent me back to the eagle’s nest
America. America. Oh, Canada!
This morning was hot. Hot mornings are a warning sign of stranger things to come in my life…and I decided to paint the rest of my bathroom in non-paint clothes, and guess what? They are now the color of my bathroom.
I have moved. My new neighborhood is Loud-Quiet: the kind of quiet that is usually loud, but sometimes it’s quieter than it is loud; hence, Loud-Quiet. Yesterday was no exception to this general rule, however, among the rap that often blares from open home doors or cars, I heard a sample of Amelie soundtrack (one of my favorites) mixed among yet another rap song. My curiosity was piqued. I ran out the door and across the street to the group of guys (and one girl) sitting in their front porch. “Hello,” I said. They looked surprised. I wondered if they thought I was going to ask them to turn their music off or something. “My name is Emily. Do you know who this is?” They were friendly and informative: Kid Cuti was their answer.
“We saw you moving in. Where did you come from?”
“I moved here from Washington Heights.”
“You moved here from Washington Heights?”, they sounded surprised. (Wow… how do I answer that?!)
“Yes. I like it here.”
“Well, you’re welcome over any time.”
And now I have some new friends. Thanks, Kid Cuti.
(Of Note: A lady from the 4th floor of her building was just arguing with a guy on the sidewalk and threw a couple of bottles at his car right before he shouted some threats at her and drove off… home sweet home.)
Started it in the wee hours of the morning today (during the quiet part of the day). This is in its first phase: I thought I could clean it up, move stuff around, add some more stuff, make it longer, add some vocals…but I may not end up finishing it as I’m ho-hum about it generally. I had all my recording equipment boxed away, so I used my ear buds to record the voice and bells. Ear buds. Never a solid way of capturing sound. I slowed everything down once it was recorded. Garageband samples filled up the rest of it.
Also, The 80s. You may not know that I love the 80s.
So, my 365 project turned into more of a song project. I keep telling people, “I’m going to finish it! I will!” Well, the words slipped out of my mouth and into the air, and after a while I didn’t believe it anymore. Months and months would pass, and I always find an excuse.
No more. I’m sitting here at this computer dreading even logging into my wordpress account, feeling my own damning inner disappointment. I talked to Brian Speaker, the friend who inspired the 365 Project through his own (totally completed) 365 Project called Spiral Notebook. His advice? “The 365 Project is what you want it to be. If you’re done at day 200, you’re done. You set the rules, and no one can say any different.”
I started the 365 with an All-Or-Nothing mentality. I did just fine, with only a few missed days, until 214. I remind myself that that number is huge, and I’m not a disappointment even though I didn’t finish by January 4. I remember when that day came and went. I was rushing to finish the movie score I had picked up months earlier, and now, I have 214 songs and an entire soundtrack behind me. Not so bad, and now I’m telling myself: finish. I miss the 365. And really, even though I’m not sure exactly how many are listening out there – I miss you.
Between Two Trees – Lady Lamb the Beekeeper Cover
Lady Lamb the Beekeeper has been heard at least twice here at the 365. Her voice is unmistakable and unforgettable. I recently saw her open for Beruit in a magical-only-Aly-Spaltro-could-command-that-big-of-an-audience-all-by-herself kind of performance. She played this song that night, and I recalled when I first heard it. Pearl and the Beard was in Maine doing a show in Portland on a mini-tour. The evening consisted of Dylan Metrano from Tiger Saw and Lady Lamb the Beekeeper.
I am posting a video of my cover of this song as shot by incredible photographer Josh Maready in a subway tunnel in New York City. It was almost 2 am by the time we finished. Trains were about 5-10 minutes apart and the song is somewhere in between there in length, so we had a hard time finding a quiet spell. This take was the only one not interrupted by an arriving subway train, until, serendipitously, one arrived right at the end of it like a period on a sentence, taking the sound away and out. I suspect Rick Gribenas might be a little pleased, wherever he is. It worked great, but it was the only take where I forgot lyrics…sacrifice for the greater good I suppose.