FREE love!

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Happy Valentines Day, all!   You are our cup of tea, and we want you to be the first to hear the title track for our next CD!

My daughter and I wrote this little ditty one morning over a cup of tea when I was in need of  a two-chord song for teaching ukulele.  This rough mix will change before the final pressing, but all the zany elements are there.  John Bartlit outdid himself on xylophone, bells and whistles and percussion, not to mention bass.  Daniel Ward picked up a coronet at a yard sale and blasted a boozy tatoo. At it’s heart it is a very simple song just right for beginning uke players.

Jeff Bogle has posted the song and some kind words on his website OWTK, and there is a YouTube tutorial of how to play the song, there are charts available on GoChords, too.  You’ll find an easy and slightly harder version published my group Sukey Jump Songs. Go get your hatchet, learn a few chords and let your sugar know how many lumps you’ll take!

So many exciting things are brewing for the band right now, including a spring tour which will take us to Jiggle Jam in Kansas City for Memorial day.  We will be playing nearly every day for three weeks.  Be sure to check back for official dates and times if you are anywhere between Los Angeles and Kansas City!

And the CD!  We are planning on a late spring release.  But we need a little help from our friends.  We will be launching a Kichstarter campaign to raise the money to pay for the packaging and duplication.  It’s a great way to pre-order a copy, perhaps pick up a special premium and be part of the process, plus earn our eternal gratitude for your love and support.

Until then-   Happy Valentine’s Day and chin-chin!

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The mighty Mark…

Every Band I’ve Ever Been In

September – June 2001, New York City

In October 1999, I saw a listing somewhere for a concert by the New York Mandolin Orchestra. On a whim, I went, with my wife and two children. I’ve loved the mandolin since I was a kid and had been playing sporadically since I bought one while I was in the Oswalds. The concert was sort of cool, if rather sparsely attended (my family comprised about half of the audience in the Washington Irving High School auditorium).

The New York Mandolin Orchestra has been around since 1924 (it was originally named the New York Freiheit Mandolin Orchestra). In the Twenties, there was something of a mandolin orchestra craze. I think it’s safe to say the craze has subsided, but the NYMO persists to this day.

At that first show I attended, there were perhaps 20 mandolin, mandola, and mandocello players,  They…

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New Year/New Music: Tracking in Tijeras

2013 hit the ground running.  This is my attempt to catch up with it!

The Booth Dog

The Booth Dog

Our big news is that we started to work on the next CD.  Studio Dog Marnie lent us her ear.

Boxing Day happened at 75 miles an hour.  Drove from LA to NM with a surprise stop in Ash Fork, AZ.  I-40 was closed due to a truck accident, so we stopped for the night in the only hotel in town, the Ash Fork Inn.  To say the proprietress was colourful would be an understatement.  I have added her expression “Loopier then a pet coon what been eatin peaches in the sun all day” to my phrasebook.  It might even make it on the CD.

We went right to work, driving straight to Cervantes for two flat red enchiladas with an egg, extra side of red and a michelada (ritualized NM feeding).  John Bartlit met us and we strategized for our week in the studio.

David McCray Mics the room for the Bass

David McCray Mics the room for the Bass

Third Eye Studios in Tijeras, NM is pinch-me-I’ve-gone-to-heaven wonderful. Warm room, booths, gorgeous mics and really sweet micing is making every track gold. Dream come true.  David McCray, the engineer and chief wizard is amazing.  (we even got him to sing!)

Daniel Ward is the brains and the beauty on this project, making tasty arrangements on the fly and playing uke, guitars, a little percussion, vocals, some bass and even CORONET!

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He blew it!

John Bartlit is doing his usual unusual thing of playing everything under the sun.  He has added a full size stand-up bass to his repitoire thanks to his daughter’s school music program.  It is about the scrappiest looking thing you ever saw, but it has a big beautiful tone and John can conjure all kinds of deep magic from it. You’d think it was his primary instrument.  He’s also plugged in the electric bass and a wild wa pedal for the Boogie Man’s voice.  Crazy.

Big bass in the big room, little uke in the little one.

Big bass in the big room, little uke in the little one.

Serious magic happened with percussion on Wi Wa.  John pounded on the log drum with a rythm Daniel learned in Haiti from a guitar player.  It is exotic and mesmerizing.

log on blog

log on blog

two-man magic

two-man magic

All the basic tracks are down, time to mix and add background and finished vocals.  Mix, master, art, layout….lots of work ahead of us to make our early summer release.  A kickstarter campaign for help with finishing funds is in the works.  More on that soon.

It is thrilling to be in the creative process.  I can’t wait to share more with you- in fact, we will pre-release a song for Valentine’s Day, so check back here to get a sip of what’s in store!