Election Night Sounds Like America

On Election Night, I was asked to go sing some songs down at the M Bar in Hollywood. For some reason, as the day got closer, I started thinking I wanted to play a lot of cover songs. I don’t usually. But as I rehearsed, I kept coming back to the idea that there probably weren’t going to be very many people there, since most of America would be home watching election returns, so why not try new things?

On Tuesday night, then, I played at least a half dozen songs that I’ve never done outside of my living room before. There were Tom Waits songs, Johnny Cash songs, a Glenn Danzing song, one by Dax Riggs (those two were my retro-Halloween mini-set), a Lead Belly song (who no one in the audience had heard of), and a couple more. The expectedly small crowd and I had fun, I think.

Lying in bed that night, after finding out that Barack Obama would remain president, I wondered why I’d played the songs I had. I love election nights, have since I was a kid, and I realized that without meaning to, I’d picked out a set of songs that all reminded me of America. I played songs by legends and by relative unknowns (including me), old songs and new from songwriters of many faiths and no faith, across several different genres. And without meaning to, I think I had subconsciously tried to share the musical tapestry that I see in my mind when I think of American music. It was an interesting night, and interesting insight.

Incidentally, there was only one song I could close with. So I did…

Playing Live

The past six weeks have been full of live performances. I was tallying it up today, and I think I’ve played somewhere every week for the last six, from a pair of shows with the expanding band lineup, to a few solo acoustic sets, and the odd open mic here and there. It occurred to me in thinking about this today, that while I have a vision for this music, I still don’t have a plan.

I’m ok with that. This whole process has been a long and unfolding adventure, so I’ll keep that up. The closest thing I have to a plan is to say that from here on out, we’ll try to play a show a month and no more, because I’ve still got a few more songs to write on my new John Henry-inspired concept album. Maybe it’s more of a song cycle than a strict concept album, but whatever it is, it needs to get recorded later this year. Steps are being taken to make that happen, too. So we’ll see where this road takes us.

In any event, it’s time to introduce the rest of the band. Sci-Fi Romance is now myself (Vance Kotrla) on vocals and guitar, Kurt Bloom on drums, and Jody Stark on cello. These musicians are a blessing, and if you are local to LA and you haven’t had a chance to see us play together, I think I can say you’re missing out. I say that as a fan of them, myself.

Here are a couple of videos from our last show at the Pig N Whistle, which may become our local home.

As the descriptions say, the quality isn’t astonishing, but you get the idea.