this monday at the hideout

By Robbie on January 23, 2015

It's the Pussycat Trio, which is Robbie Gjersoe, Beau Sample, and me. As usual, we'll do midcentury jazz, R&B, and country, and a couple of my tunes too.

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the infancy of 2015 continues

By Robbie on January 20, 2015

I've been late as usual in posting new dates but the few I have through February are now up. For those too lazy to move their eyes slightly to the right, I'll be in Lafayette IN and Nashville this weekend with a hot quartet composed of Don Stiernberg, Shad Cobb, and Chris "Stop Calling Me Earl" Scruggs. Next weekend I'll be in St. Paul for A Prairie Home Companion as well as a post-show concert; I believe the radio broadcast is sold out, not sure what the status is with the afterward thing or how to force your way in -- readers of robust constitutions, please investigate. For those shows my quartet will include Robbie Gjersoe, Aaron Till, and Chris "I Play Everything But Banjo" Scruggs. Also the usual array of creatively curated Hideouts. But I'm performing very little until mid-March, not a choice exactly, but it works out that way most years and it's a good time to write music.

Thanks for the couple of comments on my recent post about various projects. By way of reply, the large digital album I'm working on, a la 50-vc. Doberman, will be close to as many songs (50) as the older album contained. Could be exactly 50, or 49, or 52, we'll have to see. I guess my first thought was to go one higher or lower so I could retain the fabulous and widely beloved brand-name and just change the number. The duo dates with Redd Volkaert are summer through mid-September. There's plenty of dates either contracted or held -- I think over 20 at this point -- but sorry, Nick, none in the U.K. Come to think of it, none in Chicago either; maybe that'll change. The travel takes us midwest, east coast, and Texas.

The Blue Note re-mastered reissue series on vinyl that Don Was is helming is life-enhancing, to say the least. Not having the disposable wealth to buy them all, or the scholarly knowledge to give me a consistent basis for preferring some over others, it's exciting to look at the covers and personnel and take some small gambles. I must say that I'm still very much in love with the audacious style of Mr. Eric Dolphy. Out to Lunch sounds killer no matter what, but played back to back with Sonny Clark's Cool Struttin', both sound better. I think the avant-garde and the rooted are excellent companions, and in fact would bore quickly of one without the other.

The writing seems to be going very well for me -- definitely going well quantitatively, the quality is more vividly exposed over time -- so I'm going to get back to it now, check in soon...

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this monday at the hideout

By Robbie on January 15, 2015

I'll do a set of Jesse Winchester songs in honor of the eccentric master (and, by the way, what isn't much acknowledged, a triple-threat dude, as natural and grooving as his nylon-strung guitar picking was; it's regrettable that his brand-name producers built castles around him rather than letting his own hands do more of the work) who died last April. The material will range from his first record in 1970 to his last, the posthumous release from 2014, though there will be a noticeable hump in the mid-period recordings, which are most familiar to me and most embedded. Playing with me will be Gerald Dowd, Steve Dawson, Brian Wilkie, Scott Stevenson, and, as special guest, Ingrid Graudins.

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this monday at the hideout

By Robbie on January 10, 2015

I'll be duetting with Justin Roberts. Looks like we'll be touching on some of his certifiably excellent songs for children, as well as others written by us both; and we'll be picking out some interesting covers. As far as the child-friendly question that's come up on previous Justin Hideouts, the show won't be expressly aimed at youngsters, since it'll have some kids'-themed music in it here and there, and won't be obscene, it could be entertaining for certain children, those not very impatient or poorly reared.

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2015, a look ahead

By Robbie on January 8, 2015

I'm holed up doing a lot of writing this month and next, finishing up the songs for my next release, which is going to be recorded late April/early May -- and with luck, out late this year, if not, early next. While at work I had occasion to remember a striking comment of Martin Short's in his recent memoir. After a Glick taping, he had to look up John Hodiak, a rather obscure actor to whom his character, Glick, had referred comically but with whom Martin, the actor, was unfamiliar on a conscious level. "Artist" must be about the only profession where such semi-demented brain detritus is of positive value. When I'm in Holedupville reaching for ideas and phrases and melodies, the oddest things swim forth, snatches of songs I haven't heard for decades, styles I'm barely aware of. After a few hours of fruitless fumbling two evenings ago, I got pulled into, for reasons unknown to myself, a French ballad concerning a shipboard romance. Alarming! Because there is little sign that anyone who likes my music is interested in hearing an Aznavour-inflected tale of romance on the high seas, and more fundamentally because I don't really speak French. Probably one of the reasons I get pulled in marginal directions is that so much of what I reject -- ideas firmly shown the door the moment they appear at my lips or fingertips -- is solidly, centrally in my wheelhouse. Rejecting them is in itself a sound move, I think. I notice that when I bring candidates back to Mrs. F., she sometimes shakes her head and remarks, "You've done that already." A harsh editor! But a wise one. Enough drunken weepers and twangy lamentations of love gone south. Let's evolve.

Other projects I'm working on this year: a follow-up to 50-vc. Doberman, a reversioning of Bob Dylan's Street Legal, plans to produce records on two artists, live performances here and there of Jenny Scheinman's score to the moving-portraiture documentary Kannapolis, a play, some duo touring with Redd Volkaert, and the usual touring with the usual shifting cast. That's kind of a lot for 12 months, mostly because of the writing, which eats up a ton of time. I don't think this array of projects would be doable without dialing my travel back a bit, which should naturally happen since my last release is now a year-and-a-half old. I realize that simply to rattle off the foregoing list raises immediate and pertinent questions, among those of you kind enough to care what I'm up to, but please be patient and I'll get more detailed on them as they progress. Half of these things tend to fall off the plate anyway -- I guess I'm only indicating how delightfully industrious I am.

One last note: I changed agencies last week. I'm now with Paul Lohr's company, New Frontier. I've yanked Paul's chain periodically for the last 10 years and I'm pleased that I'm at last in a position nominally worthy of his extremely worthy roster -- it includes Riders In The Sky, the Avett Brothers, Angeleena Presley, John Cowan, Jim Lauderdale, Chris Hillman, Carlene Carter, the Gibson Brothers, Sean Watkins, Darrell Scott, Marshall Crenshaw, John Oates, John McEuen, Shawn Camp -- I mean, just stop it. Starting the year with this prestigious company behind me is a great psychic boost. Now back to the trenches.

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