Peace and Love and Rock and Roll in Open Source Music!

Delighted to see a nice write-up of my EP at OpenSourceMusic.com. Sez Matthew King Kaufman:

Right after I got used to fact that this sounds nothing like The Uptones, I loved this recording. It’s a solid rock record!! The songs are magnificent!

Here’s the whole post with audio of one song.

Thanks Matt! Cheers all, hope you enjoy.

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“A Top-Notch Enjoyable Listen!”

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Happy Birthday Dad, My How Time Flies

On the second February 5 since my dad’s passing, I figured I’d wish him a happy birthday here, with a few pictures.

Here’s John Putnam Dinwiddie with John Cage, in 1967..

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..complete with reflection from the glass in the frame, in my snapshot. I think the incidental graininess and chaos would agree with both of these gents’ appreciation for chance events in music, art and life.

Here’s dad, a half-century later playing Charmian London’s piano at Jack London State Historic Park, where he often volunteered on weekends to play for visitors to the museum.

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I noticed that John’s presence seems so similar in these two photos, even though they were taken about 50 years apart. He played piano his own way. Took photographs his own way. Lived and loved his own way. I miss him a lot.

A year ago today, I made this post with some recordings of John’s compositions from the KPFA archive:
John Dinwiddie Original Music, Recorded 1971 and 1973
– have a read and a listen if you like.

Here’s a fallen oak tree branch, balanced on a rock, with two red reflectors which my dad affixed to it in this way. Those of you who knew him will likely say, “of course he did.”

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Thinking of you today, Dadunit. Whatever you’re doing now, I’m sure it’s not boring! Love you always,

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Blogging About Blogging About My New Record, part 1

As the rain continues to pour on our thirsty California, I’m reflecting on the last year a bit, and considering what to do next. While the debacles of 2016 played out, I spent some time writing and recording new music. I released four new songs as “Peace and Love and Rock and Roll part 1” as the new year arrived. Nearly everything about it is a first for me. I’ve never done a solo record before, I’ve always worked with bands. Never self-released anything before, or self-produced.

I’m glad I did it, and I have decided to do more. I made a new website to host my records, and after thinking very hard about it for almost two seconds, decided to call it peaceandloveandrockandroll.com. You can pick the EP up there instantly in download/digital form, or even order a physical CD if you like, from the very small batch I made.

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Wishing you all a good start to this strange new year. I am going to go swim in the rain now.

Peace and Love and Rock and Roll to you and yours,

Eric

The Burley And Lucy Show

As this horrible election lurches to a shuddering death I decided it’s time to post some quality content to counter the vast tsunamis of ugliness and bile. Here are the great Lucy and Burley, starring in The Burley and Lucy Show. The episodes don’t happen in any particular order, nor do the stars of the show exist in linear time. They occupy a free-floating space-time warp fueled by catnip and excessive naps. They often exist in several places at once. Scientific studies have proven their spontaneous generation in open guitar cases. Here they are in their natural element, secretly documented by yours truly the monkey.

Please Fellow Bernie Sanders Supporters, Let’s Elect Hillary Clinton and Progressive Democrats Wherever Possible

Bill McKibben calls it a “War On Climate Change” now, in this age of “War On” every little thing. I guess that might get more attention to this single most important subject in the history of everything. From Democracy Now! this morning:

Here’s an excerpt of the part I find most important in RE: how we vote in November:

Bernie refused to concede. He didn’t back down. He didn’t do what everyone told him he should do. He kept in the race through the final meeting about the platform in Orlando two weeks before the convention. And he did that in order to ensure that he’d have leverage in those discussions..

..And as a result, by staring them down, the platform, at the last-minute, turned markedly more progressive. Among other things, there’s a call in there for an emergency climate summit within the first hundred days of a new administration, designed to — and it says this in the platform — mobilize us for something like a World War II approach to climate change. We’ll see if we can hold them to it.

– Bill McKibben

That is one reason I am following through with my support for Bernie Sanders, by voting for the Democratic Party ticket in 2016. And then this year can be over please, thank you.

There is a certain sick entertainment value to having a presidential candidate tweet at 3AM that Miss America is fat. And that many Americans seem determined to elect a boy with no qualifications and every horrible trait a person can have. Charles M. Blow in his NYT column articulates this perfectly. There’s a certain hilarity to the fact that grown persons want to provide a maladjusted toddler with nuclear weapons.

In the race also, are two other candidates. The Libertarian doesn’t know the name of a single foreign leader and he’s a right-wing nut. Yet he’ll pull some votes from right and left, and this too is good for an uneasy chuckle. We also have a Green Party candidate who will pull a significant number of votes away from the sole qualified candidate in the race, Hillary Clinton.

The laughing stops when you realize that most of the unworthy brat’s followers will vote for him, no matter what he says or does. And that many rational people seem to be missing this point, as they prepare to make protest votes for candidates who are not only unqualified, but also have exactly no chance of winning a single state. Thus, the unworthy brat can win. It is not funny.

There was one other qualified candidate in the race, his name is Bernie Sanders. He has endorsed and is campaigning for Hillary Clinton. I agree with him, and I am voting Dem even here in sunny “Blue State” California. Because this election is weird. It’s so weird it makes weird look normal. Anything could happen, and it’s an emergency situation. We must not allow our nation to be led and represented by its most horrible specimen.

To abandon the Democratic Party nominee in the general election would be to render all the efforts we made behind Bernie Sanders a complete waste. Please don’t do that. Please vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton, support her campaign in whatever ways you can, and encourage others to do so. After that business is done, we can address everything else, but first we must put a grown-up in the White House. And hopefully bury the GOP down the entire ticket for ever subjecting us to this shameful display.

Holding On and Letting Go

New Matt Jaffe video is just up –

I played guitar on that recording, along with young Matt and his fabulous Distractions. He’s a helluva songwriter and musician, and it’s been a pleasure to work with him and watch him go from open-mic wiz-kid to budding rock star. I’ve been by turns, a session player, coach, and even tour manager for this band, when they supported Blues Traveler on their US tour last fall.

“Holding On” is one of my faves in their live set, and I dig the “rollercoaster” metaphor in the vid. Occurred to me also, that “holding on” is like attachment in the Buddhist sense, the cause of suffering, and that gives the chorus its power. But I think too much. “Holding on, cos I don’t know what’s true.” Amen, brother.

Recently I’ve been making some new recordings of my own, and young Matt actually co-wrote and played guitar on one of them. So the circle is complete! More on that later. Cheers all!

Uptones Music and Interview Podcast with Joel Selvin

uptones-joel-selvin-podcastA while back Paul Jackson and I popped into Joel Selvin’s Basement Record Library to share some stories and play some Uptones records. OpenSourceMusic just published it in their new podcast, and I listened back to it. A blast from the past! Some of this music, I myself haven’t heard in years. Thanks Joel, and thanks everyone who ever came out to our concerts or enjoyed our recorded music. What a long, strange ska trip it’s been.

Drinking A Case Of Joni Mitchell With Pollyana Bush

As a guitar player, I’ve rarely used anything but standard tuning. I don’t even like capos. So it was a new challenge to learn three custom tunings to accompany the amazing and beautiful Pollyana Bush, on three Joni Mitchell songs. This is part of her concert series, “Full Circle, musings on Laura Nyro, Joni Mitchell, and Carole King.” We’ve done the gig once in the East Bay, and tomorrow we’re doing it in San Rafael.

One of the songs, “Case Of You” was challenging for another reason – I couldn’t not cry when we were doing it. Ridiculous, no? But seriously, once I got the song down, every time we’d play it and Pollyana started singing, my eyes would be raining. This leveled out after a while and I was composed during the performance. I can’t recall another song/singer ever affecting me in that particular way. Why am I sharing this? Oh, I don’t know, why not.

We’re doing “Case Of You” in an open-G# tuning, and I needed to figure out how to make it sound something like a dulcimer doubling a guitar. Luckily, Pollyana has a Taylor acoustic with a cutaway, which is perfect for this. Another song I’m playing on is “Help Me,” which is open-tuned to C Major 7th. Who does that!? It’s been a great experience learning these songs, and to sort of get a glimpse into Joni Mitchell’s creative process. You couldn’t play these songs in standard tuning, it’s physically impossible. I found myself wondering – does Joni play with the tuning and THEN write a song, or hear a song in her head, and then tune the instrument to fit? Both approaches maybe? She uses so many tunings, and they are wildly different. Now I’m fascinated enough to find some interviews with her, and see if she talks about this. Tackling this was made much easier by the wealth of info provided by Joni Mitchell herself, on her own website.

I’m thrilled to be on this gig, with some amazing cats, including the great Raz Kennedy. Raz called me asking if I knew anyone who could do this kind of guitar playing, a few weeks before the earlier concert. I recommended a few players but none were available, so I started learning the odd tunings to see if I could even get there. It turned out to be a really fun and rewarding guitar lesson, and now, as a consequence of this, I wrote a song in open-G! A good friend told me years ago the day you stop learning is the day you die. I guess I’m still alive.

Here’s the concert info, I think some tickets are still available if you are interested.

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Oh, and Pollyana, this happened to your guitar case. But don’t worry, Lucy is very neat and does not have fleas.

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Rant

I don’t think I’m actually signing any petitions demanding that congress do its job re: Supreme Court nomination. We don’t sign petitions demanding anyone else do their job, do we? You pay them and they fix the sink or whatever and that’s it. I’d like that – plumber comes over, sits down, says “I refuse to even hear your arguments about that leaky faucet. Fuck off and die. Oh, and pay me.”

I’ll miss President Obama. I don’t agree with him on everything of course, but that’s not the point. He’s a great president. In harsh contrast to his predecessor, and most who scramble to replace him, Barack Obama is highly qualified for that office, while most persons simply are not.

I hope Bernie Sanders wins, and I’m doing what I can to help make that happen. But much of America is deep in a self-destructive kick. To say economically disadvantaged people often vote against their own interests is a whopping understatement. On the one hand, they’re nominating a belligerent fascist buffoon. On the other, maybe a dedicated servant of Wall Street, the Incarceration For Profit Industry, and the Department Of Lobbing Bombs At People. She’s rational. And reasonable. In comparison to the raving, psychotic idiots of doom. And that’s the deal. We’re supposed to be happy with the lesser evil in this context.

There’s no need for satire anymore. Reality has replaced satire.

There is exactly one candidate for president in 2016 whose positions align with the interests of most Americans, and not with the entrenched corporate forces of greed and devastation. His name is Bernie Sanders.

If you, like many Bernie supporters, are discouraged by yesterdays not-so-super-Tuesday results, have a look at this optimistic assessment for a morale-boost and reality check:

Bernie Sanders Had a Phenomenal Night — Here’s Why

And that’s it, I have nothing more. Donate to Bernie’s campaign if you agree and are so inclined. Phone bank etc. if you have time. We can win, but key word is “we.”

Oh, and I’m playing a gig Friday! With the amazing and beautiful Pollyana Bush, and her amazing and beautiful band! It will be amazing, and beautiful. Info here.

Here are some rabbits.

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Happy Birthday, Dad! John Dinwiddie Original Music, Recorded 1971 and 1973

Today’s my dad’s birthday. He left this physical world on Sept. 25 of 2015, so it’s a year of firsts now – first holidays without him, first birthdays, each one with its own meaning. I celebrate the dude. He was a brilliant and unusual man.

In his younger days, John Dinwiddie was an active composer. And only in recent years, some of his pieces have emerged on the Interwebs.

Here’s one of my favorites, “An Avalanche Of Pianos,” played by twenty-one pianists on twenty-one pianos in a Berkeley piano shop in 1971. The KPFA radio crew did an amazing job of recording this, and I’m so glad it’s available to listen to now. There’s a little background info at archive.org about this program, which was performed exactly once. After “Avalanche” is a performance by the same group of Philip Corner’s “C Major Chord”. (Note – there’s some warm-up and intro sounds at the beginning, then they get going)


Also performed live on KPFA but in 1973, this 80 minute set contains several John Dinwiddie originals, including two versions of “Quiver.” (Also hosted with some background info at archive.org)


“Quiver” involves placing glass lenses on the strings of a grand piano and tapping them, causing the lenses to quiver back and forth on the strings as gravity slowly brings them back to inertia. John and his friends used to practice this sort of thing at our home when I was very young, and I was utterly fascinated by the whole affair. I remember asking my mom, “what are they doing?” To which she replied, “they’re having a rehearsal.” Now, I didn’t know what a rehearsal was, it was not yet in my 5-year-old vocabulary. But, at that moment, I decided that I must have a “rehearsal” too! It just looked like too much fun.

They experimented with every parameter of what you can call “music.” It was at the height of John Cage’s obliteration of conventional constraints on musical notation and everything else, and my dad and his friends were in the thick of it.

Here is a picture of John at work on his piece, “Winters,” in which he hung an array of mirrors and attached a small contact microphone to each one. The audience would wander through the structure and tap at the mirrors, the sound of which was sent through some electronic filters and amplified through loudspeakers in the room. And that was the whole piece. This spectacle was, for a time, the dining room in our house.

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I’m grateful and I miss the guy, but, I get the sense he’s doing something unusual and creative and fun, in some form or another, perhaps without the constraints of linear time.

Happy Birthday, Dad!