Saturday, March 28, 2015

James Rabbit coming up!

We've been very busy individually, though we are going to get together in June for a show with IJI!

We are finished with our recordings from the last year, had hoped to put them out, but it feels like old dust now, think we'll write some new stuff. Things had gotten a little bit too soft rock and not raucous enough. Remember Perfect Waves? Something like that but a little more accessible. In the meantime I am studying Adam Levine for tips on looks and how to sing that high.

I put out my first solo CD 'Reckless Chewing' at a show with Mega Bog and we are all sold out. I have two more CDs coming out: 'What's My Voice', which is a radio play and 'Guitar Ballet' which is a performance for guitar and drone and audience. Those will be out on April 11th I think.

Since I last wrote here I've listened to a lot of music! 100 Bollywood albums and 25 Country albums and now Jane Siberry. Listened to her first four albums yesterday while driving back from Fair Oaks and I came upon the track 'The Bird in the Gravel' and I was like Whoops! Thought I knew what this was all about, and now here's something amazing and different.

2014 Albums:

Loved Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift, Parquet Courts, Sia, Tune-Yards, Mac Demarco, gotta get dressed now for a concert.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

James Rabbit Upcoming

We had a super fun show at the Blue Lagoon in Santa Cruz last night, thought I'd update you on what we have coming up. We are going to be rehearsing and recording another CD, to be released in October and are hopefully going to play a show in September and possibly down in L.A. in October, to support the release of our next CD. See you soon!

Here are some CDs we released this year (free download):
May 2014 - for Van Dyke Parks -  featuring Nessie
July 2014 - for Ron and Russell Mael - featuring Brett Hydeman

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

James Rabbit CD, CDs

Our next album, Can We Be Real, will be a compilation of the best songs from some short CDs that we will be putting out starting soon. The release of the first CD, “For Van Dyke Parks” is somewhat delayed: J.R. members Dorota and Nessie are leaving town soon and we have to record the second CD before they leave, so all of our energy is devoted to that. Hang in there! We’ll be putting out a fantastic CD soon and another fantastic CD soon after that!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Leo Kottke at the Rio - March 28, 2014

Leo carried a six string out onto the stage and sat and started at exactly eight o’clock playing a vocal number, ‘Rings’, which was pleasant and jaunty, delivered with a semi-deadpan vocal and stiffer fingers than I’d expected. His fingers limbered up during the instrumental sections, contracted once more when the vocals returned. After the song ended, he said that the song had been written for the wedding of friends, which had ended three years later in divorce. Having read Jake’s piece in the paper about his performing style,  I was prepared for him to speak at length during the show, which was pleasant, and at times was as remarkable as his gifted guitar playing, though unlike his unabashedly adept guitar playing, his engaging and brilliant conversational voice was hidden behind a veneer of 60s stoner-survivor.

He played another vocal piece before settling into a pattern of instrumental, instrumental, long story, repeat. The stride guitar pieces were the best, often with impressive A sections and slightly meandering/wobbling B sections, but he always managed to pull things together, out of finger soups and fret swamps that he’d become mired in, and back into step. He would address any performance hiccups adeptly during the commentary section that followed every other song or so; these commentary portions would often be as long as the songs themselves.

His stories were very funny and only once or twice rambled too far from their point, but often the funniest bits were in the details. He began a story ‘for a while, everywhere I played, there would be bugs flying around me, no matter if it was inside or outside. Now I miss those bugs. I thought about taking a fly with me on tour in a matchbox, I’d take it out during my set and let it fly around. After the show, I’ll put it back in there. ‘How’d I do boss?’ ‘oh, you were kinda stiff tonight’. Put him in there with a head of a match and a piece of cheese… hardly a piece of cheese' (this was the funniest part for me) -then Leo goes on to talk to the audience about the low quality of the catering at the Rio and says ‘I’m a self-sufficient adult, I can take care of this stuff myself’. - and then he talks about how he and Leon Redbone were on tour once and how they had played at the sixth oldest theater in Delaware and how a bat came out of one of the balconies and flew around Leon and people thought it was Leon’s bat.’ Anyway, stories like that.

Like the B sections in his uptempo instrumentals, his stories sometimes slipped and slid, but almost always returned to the point, and would come full circle, a story about playing the trombone returned later in the set for example. He never fell flat on his face flub-wise, and only once or twice stumbled significantly.

At one point he switched to the twelve string guitar, which restricted his ability to bend notes, but had a chiming upper register and a thundering lower e-string. In the second half of the show, he played several older songs (from his first album, “Fisherman” and “Busted Bicycle”) clarifying that he had gone to great lengths to rearrange them slightly to suit his personal stylistic needs and the gulf of forty years in between original composition and now. He spoke for a while about these small changes, for one song saying the solution was to substitute one note for another an octave lower and for the other, that he looked to Tommy James and the Shondells for period-appropriate plundering. These two were my favorite, “Busted Bicycle” in particular bouncing around the high strings like a pinball in the machine while shaking and quaking in the lower register.

His loveliest vocal was “Corrina, Corrina”, which elicited ahhhs from the audience. Near the end of the set, he told a story about how two of his friends had been booked to play a show and they had sold zero tickets and how they thought there might be a walk-up so they played the show anyway to nobody, including an encore. He mentioned ‘that act added twenty years to the life of the performing arts’. This was shortly before his last song.

After an encore, he returned and played a somewhat mournful down-tempo number ‘What, you thought I was just going to come out here and explode? I did that already’. He played the song and stood up, taking a guitar in both arms, walking off stage. The house music and lights came on. It was just long enough. He was a fantastic entertainer, and a lot of it was in how he treated the audience as equals, but spoke with just enough of a wink for us to all feel in on another, higher-level joke.

Friday, January 03, 2014

I got a laptop computer, its my first laptop, I’m pretty excited. In a little bit I’m going to go on the internet and start discovering new music. I’ll start with the I Love Music forum, and then maybe check on my dormant Rate Your Music profile, read a Marcello Carlin post, go check on and just start listening to everything I haven’t heard before or haven’t heard in a while.  And if I like something I hear, I’ll listen to that artists related projects and just expand outward until I am physically or mentally exhausted. A music-discovery binge.

A little background: I spent the last 7 months in Salinas, CA without any internet. (Not no internet, if I really needed to connect I could go down to the starbucks and use their wi-fi on my Nexus tablet). The lack of internet I think was a positive thing for me, I was able to use time more intentionally and got lots of exercise. But, recently I moved into a place in Santa Cruz, where I once again have internet access.

So this is pretty exciting, I’ve got the laptop, fresh internet access, and this time I’m going to focus on not just immediately filling it up with old hard drives of mp3s. Unfortunately, this is a cycle. Everytime I get a new computer, I’m tempted to leave everything I had behind. This allows me to cut the fat: all those bonus tracks, those uncountable and unlistenable Little Feat bootlegs, the friends of friends of friends bands’ demos, and really focus on discovering new music. With fewer files on the computer, I figure I’ll listen to any new songs that I get more frequently. Plus, as if I’m building a city above the ruins of an older one, there’s the idea that I may discover some vast archive of unlistened-to but provocative files someday while excavating old hard drives.

But what happens is this:

1. I get a new computer
* March 2008 - Opportunity to put songs on a new computer
* March 2012 - New computer after internet died on old one
* January 2014 - New laptop computer
2. At first I am very careful and deliberate about what songs I will put on. I’ll start with just a download or two, things that are recommended…
* March 2008 - Putting on one song at a time, transferring from older computer via CDRs
* March 2012 - Downloading blues records, going through list, moving slowly, not adding anything before I’d listened to older things.
* January 2014 - Resolve to add just a few things at a time
3. But then, as computer becomes more primary mode of listening, I find things that I am ‘missing’, I’ll start with the classics (Scritti Politti, Laurie Anderson, Charles Mingus), records that at an earlier point in my life I felt like I NEEDED to get by, and have followed me from house to house on iteration after iteration, vinyl, cd, tape, multiple computers.
4. Eventually there’s an urge to transfer my entire previous library and I fold.

What about tracking this cycle this time, trying to break the cycle? Why can’t I just be okay with missing something? In this case, its not just missing something, I think thats its the idea that I might be missing something. So its not the thing that I’m thinking of; if I really want to hear Scritti Politti, I’ll go and find it, it isn’t like they are that vital in my every day life or listening life. I will never have a Scritti Politti emergency, in the same way that I might have a blood sugar emergency or a fire extinguisher emergency. Its more like the thing that I might be missing is something that I’ve not formed a strong relationship with, but I could remember at any moment and might not be able to find easily: Planxty, Denim, Chico Freeman. But then I’ll just go and find that thing, and it’ll be that much more special that I had to go out of my way, right?

So I’ve got this blank slate, let’s not muck it up. Let’s just add a song here, an album there, and appreciate what I have. Okay, deep breath. Well I’m not going to limit myself to just new things, that’s just absurd, I’ve got to have some flexibility. So I can get whatever I want, just not too much at once. But here’s what happens:

Let’s say I want to hear Roy Wood’s “Nancy, Sing me a Song”, something I love and have loved forever.
*I’ll go and get that song from my old computer
*Well, hey, while I’m on this old computer, why not get the whole album, after all, Boulders is really great.
*Well why not the album Mustard too.
*Well why not the other Roy Wood projects, Wizzard band, early ELO?
*Well why not all ELO? Let’s just get that full discography.
*Well why not all other Jeff Lynne produced projects: Travelling Wilburys, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, why not the full albums of each, I mean I’m not that into most of Tom Petty’s songs, but maybe I’ll find myself in a Tom Petty phase one of these days, and it’d be a waste of time to go and find it all again.
*While we’re doing Tom Petty, why not the Dwight Twilley Band…
*And while I’m getting Twilley Don’t Mind, why not look up related artists that are well-regarded but that I may not have heard of as well as related cult classics that I haven’t yet heard?
*And if I’ve got Twilley Don’t Mind, why not also put Big Star and other Alex Chilton on there…

I suppose this time I could limit myself to the first thought and not any branches or free associations, or maybe I could set no limits. Or maybe I could tie whatever happens, whether its monk-like dedication to the one-song-at-a-time or if its the gates crashing to battering ram pressure, to writing more about music, and if I try to write a little bit about everything I listen to, maybe that will keep my ‘to listen’ list to a manageable size.

Today I’m listening to Ede Staal (Brel-esque Netherlands singer, co-worker’s recommendation) and Dr. Feelgood (pub rock, cited in a Gang of Four interview as an influence). Ede Staal makes me feel like I’m on a long European train ride and my traveling companion isn’t talking to me, so I’m just looking at old barns passing and wondering if its always this semi-rainy. With Dr. Feelgood I have to shower cigarette smoke out of my hair and clothes before I go to work in the morning, but I won’t have time to do both that and eat, I like their song “Trying to live my life without you”.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Next for James Rabbit

James Rabbit band is working on our next album Marvels. It will contain some older songs as well as the newest of the new. Friend Brett Hydeman, who was previously a member of Jenna Conway's The Raisinettes and the group Brett and Tyler will be joining us playing guitar.

James Rabbit will be the band for Spotlight Stage's Little Shop of Horrors, which will be playing at Park Hall in Ben Lomond the last weekend of February and the first weekend of March. This play has special significance, as it kept us alive, throats yelling along with Mrs. Ellen Greene and Rick Moranis on cassette tape on a long night drive from San Diego to Phoenix a little while ago. "SUDDENLY SEYMOURRRR"

Monday, October 29, 2012


Our August/September U.S. tour with Iji was great! Had lots of delicious food (top three breakfasts - Succotash in Kansas City, Julian's in Providence, Juan in a Million in Austin), played lots and lots of great shows. Now we're back to work and other things. Iji just recorded an album at our house and Spencer Owen is recording an album at our house too.

I am working on a new James Rabbit album called "Renewal" and instead of writing songs in a and recording them and sitting on them and struggling with art and CD burning and all of that I'm going to put it out a song at a time, as soon as I write 'em and record 'em. Some songs I'm starting to record before I'm finished writing them! I am putting up one song on our new Soundcloud website each Friday from now until I'm out of these songs. Songs may disappear or reappear in different forms. After a while, I'll call it finished.

We have another studio album coming later, it is mostly written- just got to get the band together for some hearty song workouts and then tape it, probably recording early next year and released mid next year. 

Santa Cruz Shows coming up: 

November 27st at Storey House with Math the Band
December 3rd at Crepe Place with Jason Andersen and Bad Weather California

We have our last few albums on James Rabbit bandcamp for free or close to free. If you want hard copies or a T-shirt, email me.