Billy Mack, a folk artist friend of mine based in Allentown, Pennsylvania has come up with a couple of projects that I have taken part. The latest project revolves around putting out a compilation of songs all relating to coffee. Mr. Mack is putting together a coffee art house to open in September in Allentown, PA called Coffee House Without Limits which aims to serve as an art gallery, all ages music venue, and community space.
Billy Mack performs around the country on a low budget using Greyhound buses or whatever it happens to be to get from place to place. He has quite an underground following and it is this community of similarly thinking do it yourselfers that he called upon for the coffee compilation.
I wrote a song simply titled “Coffee”.
A little video I made for my song:
Billy’s Coffee compilation can be listened and bought here: (I’m song 20).
This group of songs collected dust for almost a decade. In 2012, I resurrected and mixed the songs from the misplaced 4-Track Tapes I had in storage boxes in Dallas, Texas since 2006 when I went into the Peace Corps in Bulgaria.
The tunes were all recorded in Los Angeles, California during the period 1999-2003. At that time, I was working on songs for my California Daze album. The songs I include on the Guittard Tapes were never released until now. You will find some alternate takes or early versions for a few California Daze songs: Beach and Jazz Tune.
Back then I was listening to the Byrds quite heavily and therefore many of the tunes are intentionally jangly with Rickenbacker sounds. I played the drums, bass, and even a sitar on the first track which was recorded 3 Weeks After 9-11. Other instruments I played were a 12 String Guild acoustic guitar, Fender Telecaster B-Bender, Dr. Groove Drum Machine, and various keyboards and percussion.
Notice also that there is a song called Election 2000 which is about the Bush/Gore Election.
Here is the track list:
1. 3 Weeks After 03:36
2. Aliens 03:57
3. Ordinary Guy 03:44
4. Getting There Is Not So Easy 03:15
5. Jingle Jangle Instrumental 02:44
6. Batman 02:12
7. Jazz Tune 2000 Demo 02:30
8. Beach Original 02:06
9. Station 03:02
10. Election 2000 02:00
11. Jangly Instrumental 04:09
12. Psychedelic Consciousness 03:13
13. Walkie-Talkie Experiment 02:59
14. Are You Up Instrumental 02:48
15. More Jangle 02:21
16. Tremolo Instrumental 01:20
The sheet music for Jazz Tune (track #7) that I wrote while attending the Musicians Institute during this period.
The main idea about this one was the tambura app sound from my android phone. On the electric guitar, I tuned the low E String to D and the A String to G. I like droney stuff. And then I added the tambourine and a homemade shaker of a can taped up with rice. Works well. I learned this from a Russian friend. Maybe I’ll add the sitar to it later.
In this one I think the coolest part is the jazzy keyboard with reverb and echo. I know there is a song where the keyboard sounds similar but I can’t remember what it is. I’ll try to figure it out and post it too. Then there is repetitive guitar with a phaser effect I believe.
I’ve posted about this one before but it is an instrumental too so I’m posting again. The mood is repetitive but driving forward. The inspiration is all the occupiers getting slammed to the ground by NYPD cops who are paid off by Chase Manhattan Bank. True story. Chase Bank gave like $4.6 million to NYPD shortly before all the arrests went down.
Having accidentally listened to this while a rhythm track was running, I was a tiny bit disappointed that there was no crap drum track.
Then I realised that was churlish. It’s really rather a good excursion into the kind of folk music that would have been made by chainsaw wielding space travellers in 1888, had there been such folk.
It’s musically a lot more competent than I seem to be giving it credit for. The made up on the spot lyrics are better than anything that over-rehearsed Industrial Production Line Talent Shows will ever give you. Imagine the Gidds on the X-Factor. Cannot?
Then this really is the music for you. Especially if you have sense to listen to music to discover things. Such as what things sound like with an accidentally running rhythm track.
Last weekend I played at a festival in Lovech, Bulgaria. There were over 40 guitarists who call themselves “Bards.” It was a rather nice event. I will admit that I was very nervous getting up to play because I hadn’t played public in over two years. I guess it was kinda similiar to Elvis’ 1968 Comeback but I didn’t have the nice leather outfit. 🙂
The whole Bard movement is especially needed in Bulgaria. The whole Chalga thing will wither away I predict when people wake up to how stupid it is. I mean Aziz, what’s so great about this guy? Nothing at all.
The Bards sing about meaningful and important stuff not just kickin’ it with your homies in da club. So I hope that those in Bulgaria with take up the Bard cause. The Revolution Is Now! Are you tuned in or tuned out?
My girlfriend filmed me and so here I post me playing my song “Stachkata.” I wrote the song back a year ago and it caused quite a stink with the powers that be: namely the Peace Corps. I almost got kicked out of it. The song has survived. For you non-Bulgarian readers, the song was written for the nation-wide teachers strike in Bulgaria that lasted two months.
Good music has its roots and can be tracked like a family tree. The long historical tree will show exactly where the influence of good music was handed down band to band, or artist to artist. It is naive and incorrect to think that any certain band just appeared and came up with “good music.” There is much tradition.
The Byrds are a great example of “good music.”
It has been written that the Byrds took traditional folk songs and put a Beatle beat.
With Bob Dylan’s philosophical mathematical poetry, the Byrds flew high. They pioneered the folk-rock, country-rock, and jazz-rock genres.
But prior to the Byrds and Elvis, the pre-rock and roll genre started in the late 1940’s. Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry and others all waited in line for their open door. If it had not been for pre-Rock and Roll, then the Byrds, Beatles, or the Stones would not have been ready. It is all connected.
In my head, I have imagined all these famous guys all standing in a line waiting their turn. Elvis’ opportunity came when DJ Dewey Phillips played his “That’s Alright Mama” on his Memphis radio show. Callers just couldn’t believe that this guy was white.
Elvis needed to give much credit to the sounds he heard on Beale Street. He is linked to such black artists as: B.B. King, Arthur Crudup, and Rufus Thomas. These guys pre-dated the invention of Rock & Roll.
Now the big controversial question is: who copied who? “To some, Presley had undoubtedly “stolen” or at least “derived his style from the Negro rhythm-and-blues performers of the late 1940s.” Some black entertainers, notably Jackie Wilson, countered, “A lot of people have accused Elvis of stealing the black man’s music, when in fact, almost every black solo entertainer copied his stage mannerisms from Elvis.” Blank, Christopher (July 15, 2006). “Elvis & Racism – Elvis Presley Legacy is cloudy through lens of race”.
So whatever you believe, Elvis is generally the one known for opening the doors for artists like Chuck Berry and Little Richard. I guess it is like the old adage “what came first: the chicken or the egg?” I tend to lean toward the opinion that Elvis really was not the original rock and roll pioneer. He was the one that got the most press and made it popular and in style.
So after Elvis, there stood the Beatles, and the Byrds waiting close behind. Here is the important shift. Elvis was a singer-entertainer but the Beatles and Byrds were songwriters and musicians. The bands of the 1960’s migrated towards songwriting.
Roger McGuinn, who was in the Byrds at that time, waited patiently behind Bob Dylan and the Beatles. As Dylan was making waves, the movie Hard Day’s Night soon came out. The door became wide open for the Byrds. McGuinn, Clark, and Crosby quickly formed their jangly poetry beat sound. It became classic and the door was wide open.
Others were to follow through the Byrds-Dylan door. The Turtles, Sonny and Cher all followed copying Dylan and the Byrds’ jangly sound. Arthur Lee with Love fits in there.
During this time the Beatles and the Byrds also got into a little egg/chicken situation. It has been written that George Harrison heard the Byrds’ “Bells of Rhymney” song and was influenced to write “If I Needed Someone.” It was through a mutual public relations man Derek Taylor that Roger received a pre-released copy of “If I Needed Someone”. The bands had a healthy relationship.
Both bands are linked to the 12-String Rickenbacker guitar and to Ravi Shankar. We know that John and George were already into Rickenbackers but the question is – who was the first band to turn on to Ravi? It has been argued that David Crosby introduced the Beatles to Ravi. But of course, the Beatles probably got more credit for this link after their Indian trip in 1968. It is much like Elvis getting the credit for being the original Rock and Roll pioneer.
So Ravi Shankar is standing in line next to the Beatles and the Byrds in this pretend line-up.
Fast forward twenty plus years and the line after the Byrds and the Beatles includes bands such as Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, the Beachwood Sparks, the Tyde, the Quarter After, and the Brian Jonestown Massacre. Where do the Ragas fit in the line-up? Hmm?
JIM GUITTARD creates music in a documentary music style from psychedelic folk to lo-fi indie-rock. He's been putting out his brand of do it yourself little demo tapes since his college days that serve as a personal diary. Guittard has spent some time in Hollywood pounding the musical pavement. His album "Busted In Bulgaria" was recorded while he lived overseas in Bulgaria as a teacher. In 2014, Guittard has eight albums to boot that can be purchased at ITUNES.