2015 30 Mar

Recently, I’ve uncovered more tapes from the archives. This batch of tunes is from the Ragas era in Los Angeles – circa 2000. The tunes were recorded on my Tascam 4 Track in Austin, Texas during a road trip with Henry McGuinn. Our duo called the Ragas was heavily influenced by the Byrds 1965-1967 era.  More to come….

Published under Good Musicsend this post
2013 10 Jun

The Muffin Junkee episode 7 podcast.

The concept for the “Guittard Tapes” came over ten years after many of the songs were recorded. Some of the songs were actual early demos for songs for my “California Daze” album. Originally, the “Guittard Tapes” album was released in June 2012 and contained only sixteen songs. Since then I have uncovered many more songs that I consider as part of the Guittard Tapes period (1993-2003).

The cassette tapes that made up the Guittard Tapes were lost for ten years. In 2006, I had put all my belongings in several storage places in preparation to go to Bulgaria for the Peace Corps. In 2008, I returned to the States and was flopping on couches at various family members and I could not locate the tapes. I wasn’t sure where they were. I had my things in four different locations! In the spring of 2012, I was ecstatic when my dad called me to say that he had some of my stuff in his storage unit which he needed to downsize. My wife and I went to Dallas and sure enough there were the Guittard Tapes in one of my storage boxes.

It was in 1993 that my songwriting and recording began on the newly bought Tascam 4-Track machine I acquired. Instead of playing video games and zonking out on pizza, I began recording and being creative. During my college days at Western State College of Colorado, I recorded a lot of cover songs. I consider these as part of the Guittard Tapes as well but have chosen to release them separately and unofficially because they are cover songs.

In Gunnison, I began recording Tom Petty, the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, the Doors, and Nirvana. The Guittard Tapes are a look at my early writing. One of the earliest songs I wrote is called “But Not Right Now.”

It was about living in the college dorm and having to put up with rude behavior of potluck roommates. There are also some songs that I did with friends of mine where a guy named Clayton Coates who is a pastor now did the singing: A-Listen, Clayton Blues, and Gotta Get Out of this Place.


The songs were recorded in Dallas, Wichita Falls, and Huntsville, Texas, Gunnison, Colorado, and Hollywood, California. Looking back on it, I wanted to call it the Guittard Tapes because it is a nod at the infamous “Nixon Tapes.” I was born during the Nixon Administration and believe that Nixon was a gadget guy. He liked to document everything in his life and it turned out that the tapes became his downfall but in my case the tapes, to me, are my upswing. I believe the Guittard Tapes represent the initial seed of my dream. It even began before 1993 with my dad’s dictation machine and in 2013 the music holds up in its lo-fi honest way. Nixon would be proud!

I still hope to release more Guittard Tapes. The time period is significant in that the tragedy of September 11th occurred at that time. It was so innocent and optimistic before 9-11 and after became more cynical and pessimistic. However, the tapes are a slice of time and the music is available for everyone to listen and download. The process of extracting the music from the tapes to MP3 format was quite complicating.

Transferring process:
What I had to do was record each track separately from the old tapes on the old Tascam 4-Track machine to my new digital 4-track machine by lining in a guitar cord from the old tape 4-Track to the new one. Each track was done one at a time. The tricky part is the starting point for the individual tracks in a song may not always line up to the other tracks of the song. Also, the second track on the cassette 4track machine didn’t sound. So I had to flip the tape over and then the second track could be heard but backwards in the 3rd track spot.

After transferring all the tracks of a song to the digital another challenge is that the speed of the old 4-Track is at a different speed than the digital. So basically what you hear on the digital sounds like chipmunks. To fix this, I had to dump the tracks from the digital 4-Track to my laptop which has Adobe Audition 3. There, I was able to fix the second track. I would reverse it back to how it should be. And then I had to slow down the digital tracks so that it would sound “normal” speed.

Some of the tracks are still a bit out of rhythm because I was doing it mainly by ear when mixing it on the laptop. Some of the songs had a count off for a guide but many of the songs did not. Many times the count off sound bled into the other tracks and that helped me to make sure everything was lined up as good as possible.

It was quite a process. I even did some math to figure out how much time to cut. I looked for a certain lyric I sang in the song and marked the timing notation of the editing software and lined things up with that number. It was not exact but that’s what I did. I’m sure there would be more exact ways.

Bob and Jim Guittard UT Austin – May 2001

Bob's Graduation 2001 Austin Texas

Gotta Get Out of Here
Waiting Around this hard ol’ town.                                                                                                                                                                                                Gotta get outta here.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 The freaks and the bums all being dumb.
Gotta get outta here.                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Hearing the sound in the corner lounge.                                                                                                                                                                                           Gotta get outta here.                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Seeing an Elvis walk on by.
Gotta get outta here.
Saw a girl walk on by.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I think I’ll stay for a while.
Repeat all 1X

Story behind:
In 2001, I wrote the lyrics for this one while sitting in the lobby of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. The hotel is known for being the place where the first Academy Awards took place in 1929. It was just down the street from where I lived while I was attending the Musicians Institute.

At that time, I was getting a bit weary of the Hollywood scene. The music school had turned out to be disappointing and Hollyweird was taking its toll on me. I wanted to move to a different location because of a home invasion robbery and because it seemed that freaks and tourists were everywhere along Hollywood Blvd.

One time while waiting at Hollywood and Highland, a complete stranger asked me if I wanted some hash. I noticed quickly that there was a guy dressed up as Elvis standing close by and told the drug pusher pointing to Elvis that I didn’t want any hash but that Elvis might. The “Elvis” impersonator quickly told the drug pusher that he didn’t feel called to smoke hash. For this song, my writing method was to sit and observe. In the song, I make reference to this “Elvis” that I had seen around. There was a lounge at the Hollywood Roosevelt named the Cinegrill. It was where Gene Clark (the Byrds’ tambourine man) last performed in April 1991 before his death about a month later. (When I first got to Hollywood, my mother took a photo of me under the Cinegrill sign. I hadn’t learned about Gene Clark performing there yet.)

Recording: It was recorded after the move to a new apartment in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles on a Tascam 4-Track machine. I played a 12-String acoustic guitar with and without a capo, drums, and did the singing.

Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel (Cinegrill) 1999 – Hollywood Boulevard

Jim Cine Grill

Tired (Acoustic/Psychedelic Version)
Tired of being sad
Tired of being mad
I do the right thing
But I can’t feel my wings and fly.

Tired of being sad
Tired of being mad
I do the right thing
But I can’t feel my wings and fly.

Chorus
When will I do what You want?
When will I stop having to pretend?
I hate feeling bad.
I want to feel the way I did
As a kid.

Tired of feeling bad
Tired of feeling mad

Story behind:
Both of the versions were recorded in 2001 about the same time in Los Angeles on my 4-Track Tascam machine. At the time, I often experimented with sounds by using my BOSS Digital Delay pedal as a tool to create or inspire me. The Psychedelic Version of Tired is pretty experimental. I hooked up the pedal to an electric keyboard and got some interesting sounds. I had been turned onto Roland’s Vintage Space Echo machine. I was trying to get that kind of sound with my digital delay pedal.

The tune had a kind of weary feel to it. I was just tired of “twisting in the wind.” The phrase came to me as my brother called me once to get a status update on my goings on in California after he had returned to Texas earlier that year. I was digging my heels firmly trying to prove that I could make it in California. I was waiting on the right thing to happen but was getting mad that it wasn’t happening. The song was also a kind of prayer.

Recording:
Psychedelic Version – Acoustic guitar, keyboards, and singing.
Acoustic Version – Acoustic guitar and Singing.

Getting There Is Not Easy
Just wanna be right.
Just wanna be fine.
Something’ll come in time.
Getting there is not easy.
Getting there is not easy

Just wanna move weight.
Just wanna stand straight.
Something’ll give to flight.
Getting there is not easy.
Getting there is not so easy.

Just wanna break through.
Just wanna be free.
Something’ll give to might.
Getting there is not so easy.
Getting there is not so easy.

Just wanna be real.
Just wanna have sight.
Something will show real bright.
Getting there is not so easy.
Getting there is not so easy.

Just wanna be right.
Just wanna be fine.
Something’ll come in time.
Getting there is not so easy.
Getting there is not so easy.

Just wanna move weight.
Just wanna stand straight.
Something will give to flight.
Getting there is not so easy.

Story behind:
It was recorded in January 2002 with a Byrds influence. The song is similar in spirit with “Gotta Get Out of Here.” It speaks about my love-hate relationship with Los Angeles and the disillusionment about the current situation but the lyrics are still hopeful. I still felt as if I was “twisting in the wind” and was hoping that I could make it in California financially. I had worked at a rental car company to make ends meet and was not seeing the fruit of my labor but I felt I was “paying my dues.” I was in it for the long run and not hoping for a quick fix. A heavy burden was on my shoulders that I succeed and prove different family members that I could do it. I remember having different dreams at night about being in a fog, clouds, or basically just trying to find my way. It was as if I was Moses trying to find my way out of the desert.

Recording:
I played the acoustic 12-string guitar and sang.

Jingle Jangle Instrumental

Story behind:
Jingle Jangle Instrumental is one that I’m particularly proud from the Guittard Tapes. It was recorded in my Hollywood apartment in 2000 on my Tascam 4-Track machine. I was heavily listening to the Byrds in that period. The song that I was going for was “Here Without You” on the Byrds’ Mr. Tambourine album.

My recording is quite lo-fi, a bit jazzy. I used a phaser pedal to get the psychedelic effect.

Recording:

I played the drums, Rickenbacker, acoustic guitar, and bass.

Walkie-Talkie Experiment

Story behind:
This tune was recorded probably in 2000 in Hollywood. I was into gadgets at the time having just purchased a couple of walkie-talkies that Roger McGuinn had recommended on his website. Henry McGuinn and I were listening to the Byrds’ song called “2-4-2 Fox Trot (The Lear Jet Song)” off the 5D album.

It contained a bit of gadget sounds. The sound effects inspired us and in the recording of Walkie-Talkie Experiment I was trying to emulate the experimentalism I was hearing in the Byrds. Henry and I had talked about using gadgets as part of our music and so I gave it a shot.

For the song, the lyrics were completely improvised. I set up one microphone in front of one of the walkie-talkies and then I hit the record button on the 4-track machine.

The bass line was me trying to do a lively Beachwood Sparks type thing. During those days, I tried not to miss any of the Beachwood Sparks shows if they were playing in Los Angeles.

Recording:
I played the 12-String Rickenbacker, bass guitar, drums, and sang or talked.

Ordinary Guy
I’m just an ordinary guy.
Why don’t you give me a try?
Waiting for you to come around.

Chorus
Just come to me now.
I’m just an hour away.
Just come on down to me.
I’m just an hour away.

Verse
As the sun comes up.
As the sun goes down.
I can feel you getting closer to me.
You know I want ya baby. You know it.

Chorus
Just come on down to me now.
I’m just an hour away.
Get on down here, man, babe.
You can see that I’m waiting here.

Verse
I’m just an ordinary guy.
Why don’t you give me a try?
With your cute little smile
On your cute little face.
I’d love to see ya now, babe.

Chorus
Just come on down to me now.
I’m just an hour away.
Just come on down to me.
I’ll be waiting for you.
I’m just an ordinary guy.

Story behind:
I wrote Ordinary Guy in early 2000 while sitting at the Stir Crazy Coffee Shop on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood. I had been waiting there to meet a musical acquaintance but she didn’t show up and so I was blowing off steam with writing the lyrics. Ordinary Guy was one of my first songs to write lyrics. For nine months, I had been hanging around Hollywood and nothing was panning out. I just wanted a chance and that was the sentiment in the song. It was humble I guess.

I started a duo with Henry McGuinn called the Ragas shortly thereafter. I brought my song “Ordinary Guy” out as a possible tune that the Ragas could play but Henry passed on it. It wasn’t the high quality lyrics that we needed. Henry was into songs about the beach and more groovy nature type songs. My song “Ordinary Guy” was my attempt at being real. The Ragas recorded “Ordinary Guy” but as an instrumental.

Recording:
I played the Fender Telecaster B-Bender, 12 String acoustic, sang the lead and background vocals. Vladimir Maskoff played the electric bass. It was recorded on my 4 Track Tascam machine by Brian McKay in North Hollywood.

Tremolo Instrumental
Story behind:
I recorded this on probably in late 2001 or sometime in 2002. It was my attempt at possibly shoegaze. I might have been listening to the Brian Jonestown Massacre Methodrone album.

I used a tremolo pedal. Not much else to say about it. It’s cool.

Recording:
I played drums and electric guitar.

The track in the lost interview is an experimental track called Loony also from the Guittard Tapes.

Here’s where you can find additional podcasts for the Muffin Junkee Show
Jim Guittard
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Fort Worth, Texas June 2013

Published under Musicsend this post
2013 2 May

Covers by Jim Guittard and Friends

I’m releasing these songs because I thought, “why not?”

The time period the songs were recorded is from 1994-2002 and in various cities: Dallas, Los Angeles, Austin, and Gunnison (Colorado).

It was in college in Gunnison, Colorado at Western State College that I started recording music on my Tascam 4-Track machine. In 1993, at that point, I hadn’t really started to write any of my own songs. Initially, I would make up different lyrics to songs I knew. I had read that that was what John Lennon did when he started out. He had some gig with the Quarrymen at a church and didn’t have any songs of his own so he improvised words to the Del Vikings “Come Go With Me.”

The tunes for my covers album are:

01. Captain Soul – (The original tune is an instrumental on the Byrds 5D album.)

Personnel:  Jim Guittard – Lead and rhythm guitar, drums, bass, and hand claps.  Recorded in Los Angeles around 2001.

02. Cars Hiss By My Window – (The original is a Doors song off L.A. Woman album complete with scat singing ala Morrison style.)

Personnel:  Jim Guittard – Vocals, lead and rhythm guitars.  Recorded in Gunnison, Colorado around 1994.

03. Eight Miles High – (The original is a Byrds tune off the 5D album again. It does not have the Coltrane type 12-string lead Rickenbacker.)

Personnel:  Jim Guittard – Lead and background vocals, and guitars.  Recorded in Los Angeles around 2001-2.

04. Get Back – (Beatles tune on the “Let It Be” album.)

Personnel:  Jim Guittard – Vocals, lead and rhythm guitar.  Recorded in Dallas or Gunnison, Colorado around 1994.

05. Hare Krshna Mantra – (This is an obscure George Harrison tune that he did with the Hare Krishnas for an album.

Personnel:  Jim Guittard – Vocals, keyboard, acoustic guitar, and percussion.  Recorded in Dallas around 1997 or so.

06. Inner Light – (This originally was a George Harrison tune B-side to Lady Madonna.)

Personnel:  Jim Guittard – Lead and background vocals, lead guitar, drone keyboard.  Recorded in Dallas, Texas around 1997.

07. Mr. Tambourine Man – (Originally this was a Bob Dylan tune but Henry McGuinn and I did it in our duo the Ragas. We did it more like the Byrds version.)

Personnel: Henry McGuinn – Lead Vocals and lead acoustic guitar; Jim Guittard – Background vocals and acoustic rhythm guitar.  It was recorded in 2000 in Los Angeles.

08. You Ain’t Going Nowhere – (This was originally a Bob Dylan tune which was on the Basement Tapes sessions with the Band but here is the Ragas covering it based up the Byrds cover off the Sweetheart of the Rodeo album.)

Personnel: Henry McGuinn – Lead Vocals and lead acoustic guitar; Jim Guittard – Background vocals and acoustic rhythm guitar.  It was recorded in 2000 in Los Angeles.

09. No Reply – (This was based off the Beatles tune on the Beatles for Sale/Beatles ’65 albums.)

Personnel:  Jim Guittard – Vocals: lead and background, two rhythm guitars.  It was recorded in Gunnison, Colorado.

10 Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) – (Here the song is based off the Beatles original from the Rubber Soul album.)

Personnel:  Jim Guittard – Vocals:  lead and background, rhythm guitar, and sitar.  Song was recorded in Dallas, Texas around 1997.

11. Sun King – (The original is from the Beatles Abbey Road album.)

Personnel:  Jim Guittard – Vocals:  lead and background, lead and rhythm guitars.  It was recorded in Gunnison, Colorado in 1994.

12. Thoughts and Words – (This original is a Chris Hillman psychedelic tune from the Byrds’ album Younger Than Yesterday.)

Personnel:  Jim Guittard – Vocals:  lead and background, lead and rhythm guitars.  It was recorded in Los Angeles in 2001.

13. Ticket To Ride – (The Original is from the Beatles Help! album.)

Personnel:  Bob Guittard – Lead Vocals, lead guitar.  Graham Cathy – Drums.  Jim Guittard – background vocals, rhythm guitar, and bass.  Song was recorded in Dallas in 1995.

14. Eight Miles High – (This is the Ragas version of the Byrds original from the 5D album.)

Personnel: Henry McGuinn – Lead Vocals and lead acoustic guitar; Jim Guittard – Background vocals and acoustic rhythm guitar.  It was recorded in 2000 in Los Angeles.

15. Norwegian Wood (This Byrd Has Flown) – (The Ragas version of the Beatles tune.)

Personnel: Henry McGuinn – Lead Vocals and lead acoustic guitar; Jim Guittard – Background vocals, acoustic rhythm guitar, and percussion.  It was recorded in 2000 in Dallas, Texas.

16. Nobody’s Fault But My Own – (The original is a Beck tune off his 1999 album Mutations. The cover version was sent as a demo take for Jim to enter the Musicians Institute music school in Los Angeles,)

Personnel:  Jim Guittard – Vocals:  lead and background, sitar, and 12-string acoustic guitar.  Song was recorded in Dallas, Texas in 1999.

17. Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle – (This original is a Nirvana tune off the In Utero album.)

Personnel:  Jim Guittard – Vocals, lead and rhythm guitars, wah pedal and effects.  The cover version was recorded in Gunnison, Colorado in the dorms at Western State College.

Published under Musicsend this post
2010 22 Feb

1    Introduction – 02:16
2    Commentary On Beach – 01:30
3    Beach – 03:55
4    Commentary on BJM-Like Song – 01:45
5    BJM-Like Song – 03:04
6    Commentary On Confusion Lies Guns and Drugs – 02:08
7    Confusion, Lies, Guns, And Drugs – 02:34
8    Commentary on Can’t Be Down That Very Long – 00:58
9    Can’t Be Down That Very Long – 02:29
10    Commentary on 3 of Clubs – 00:53
11    3 of Clubs – 03:46
12    Commentary On Swing Tune – 00:50
13    Swing Tune – 01:28
14    Commentary on Jazz Tune – 00:43
15    Jazz Tune – 02:23
16    Commentary On Beach Acoustic – 01:24
17    Beach (Acoustic) – 05:24
18    Outro Influence of West Coast Scene – 02:27

Download for free here:

http://www.archive.org/details/CaliforniaDazeAlbumCommentary

Published under Good Musicsend this post
2008 3 Jun

Well I just wanted to let people know that Henry McGuinn and I have released an album on the free download site Jamendo.

The songs are from 2000 when we were establishing our band the Ragas in the beginnings of the Neo-Psychedelic scene in Hollywood.

I had enough foresight to let my 4-track roll. The tunes are pretty raw but I think captures the essense of the Ragas. We named our group the Ragas after sitar royalty Ravi Shankar and the style of raga rock music that the Beatles and the Byrds came up with.

Basically, Henry and I would jam tunes and record them and then trek out for Indian food on the Sunset Strip. It was fun times.

  

I hope you will download for free at:

The Ragas at Jamendo

All the Best,
Jim

2008 27 May

Henry and I are sorting out the order of our album we will put out soon. The songs are all very nice. You’ll experience the raw organic world of the Ragas as it was back in 2000 in Los Angeles.

It’s part of my history and of course a part of the underground Byrds scene. Henry is the son of the Byrds founder, Roger McGuinn.

I am glad I let my 4 track roll during our Raga rehearsal sessions in my Hollywood pad that overlooked Capital Records. There are also some tracks from our trek down to Austin, Texas. My brother of Flat People helped out on the bass.

I’ll keep you posted.

Published under Musicsend this post
2008 10 May

Journal entry from August 13, 2005

I caught the BJM show here in Dallas on Saturday night. It was different but really glad Anton chose to play. The preceding shows in Palm Beach Florida and Orlando were cancelled. The Quarter After, the opener, was good as usual. I had seen them in L.A.

Before the show, when I spoke to Rob, he said Anton’s voice was not up to par so they were kinda nervous about the show. I was going to say hello to Anton but decided I didn’t want to bother him with talk cause I figured he would be in his zone about the show. Anton was sitting at the sound board before the show. I got a good picture of him at the board with his thumbs up. Glad it wasn’t the middle finger.

Anton – Before Dallas Show

Anton - Dallas, Texas - Trees

After the Quarter After played, there was Innaway led by Reid Black. They were a Pink Floydish band from Philadelphia. It was cool and mellow. After Innaway, the crowd was getting anxious. The whole place was packed. I was rather pleased for Anton. I couldn’t even walk around. It was shoulder to shoulder. I had seen BJM at the same place 2 years prior and it was a pretty good crowd but not like shoulder to shoulder.

As I stood in the audience, the BJM brought out all their gear and set up but I wondered where’s Anton? The band patiently waited on stage smoking cigarettes and tuning and retuning etc. I looked around and Anton was on the board again DJ’ing music, kinda trippy hip-hop beat type stuff. It sounded really cool. Anton had his head phones on creating a vibe. I wish I knew what he was playing. That went on for 30 minutes. The band was ready to go and Anton was jamming out with his head phones still on at the sound board. I thought it was great. After probably 6 or so songs, the lights went low and Anton emerged onto stage.

He got on the mic pretty quick, “Anton style.” He was real nice though and the audience I thought was pretty good. They didn’t heckle him too much. Anton laid down the law from the start.

Anton Laying Down the Law

Anton - Dallas, Texas - Trees

He said, “Texas had been real good to him and the band.” He didn’t want to cancel the show. He said that he couldn’t really sing that night. He said something like, “Look, I’m your guest; treat your guests right. If ya want to kill someone, go to Iraq. You be patient!” That was classic talk.

He explained that he would show us how they make up songs. He had his drummer start a hip hop beat and they all joined in. At one point he told his bassist to try not to lead for once or something like that. They jammed out this instrumental for probably 20 minutes.

I saw a couple of people walk out but I’m sure they had never seen the BJM before. Anton ends the instrumental song and says something like, “Well who in the audience can sing?”

Some guy with a cowboy hat on and sunglasses came up on stage to sing the first song “Sailor.” Anton made it clear that he would throw him out the door and never let him back in if he was a fuck up
or “pissed in the well.”

Anton and Cowboy

Anton With Cowboy-Hatted Fan

The songs they played were:
Unknown Jam
Sailor*
Nevertheless*
Whoever You Are#
Nailing Honey to the Bee#
Who?
This is Why You Love Me#
Jennifer*
Jennifer restart#
When Jokers Attack#
Unknown Jam

* – random fan(s) on vocals
# – Rob Campanella on vocals
? – Reid Black

As a girl came up to sing Jennifer, Anton said her name was Jennifer. She piped up it was “Jill.” There were a few false starts on that song. The girl was eventually told to get off and someone else came up. Rob stepped up to the mic to help out and did a good job. He did “This Is Why You Love Me.”

Rob C. Drops Some Rhymes

Rob C. Singing BJM vocals

Several times during the show Anton said something like you don’t know me just because of some movie. And at least “I don’t give up.” Wise words.

The BJM played from 12 midnight to a little after 2. It was great that Anton let some fans help out. We are in this all together, right? Screw all this attacking stuff.

Betcha those fans who sang up there will remember for ever. I’m not disappointed.

Here’s a link to download the audio from this show: BJM – Dallas Show

It was recorded by the Drugs Are Working Blogspot.

Rob Sells Revolution Products

Rob C. Selling Revolution Products

Anton with FanThe Quarter AfterAnton Laying the Law DownDominic and Rob of the QAReid Black of Innaway Helping Out the BJM

2008 9 May

From my journal on March 21, 2004 Dallas, Texas:

I am out on the balcony of my grandparents 2-story home smoking an Indian Bidis cigarette in the dark sneaking around like I am a child. I am 30 years old with nothing concrete to show.

As I sit and breathe in and out, I feel that familiar sinking, pushing down feeling on me. The fear and anxiety grips me along with the regret of much of my life. The feeling is that I should have spoken up for myself and not pretended that all was fine.

I’ve been in my current living situation for about seven months. I have never wanted to be like everybody else, to live an insignificant life of mediocrity. I just never knew my thing or felt confident enough to express it.

I think back on my college days in Colorado and the years I wasted going through the motions. I remember watching on late night cable “The Lost Weekend” where the actor locks himself up in his apartment to try to shake the booze cravings and to be a writer. Shame and fear or whatever else always kept him down. For me it was the fear of the unknown that got me caught up or the fear of breaking from tradition or the mold.

Fastforward to today 2008.

I guess, enough is enough, right?

Well, I have been in Bulgaria for the past two years with the Peace Corps teaching English at a high school. Not really teaching, mostly supervising. Ha, ha, ha….

Jim - Sofia, Bulgaria

I told you I wanted to do things different. I have been writing songs and posting about my experiences in a foreign culture. It is pretty foreign. I have even written some songs in the Bulgarian language.

Gangster by Jim Guittard

Stachkata by Jim Guittard

Blog title comes from Chris Hillman’s song on The Byrds 1967 Album “Younger Than Yesterday”

2008 27 Apr

First of all I recommend a band called the Beachwood Sparks. They take the torch where Gram Parsons and the Byrds left off particularly with the Sweetheart of the Rodeo album. I’ve seen them live numerous times and have never been disappointed. They are the best especially with
their extended Space Echo freakout endings. They have 3 albums out and the first called Beachwood Sparks is my favorite. I hear that the BWS is getting back together (coincidentally on Roger McGuinn’s birthday), July 13th in Seattle for the 20th year for Subpop label. I wish I could be there.

Beachwood Sparks 2000

Beachwood Sparks

The second band I recommend is called the Tyde. This band has mutual members of the Beachwood Sparks. The Tyde is more Bob Dylan or Lou Reed sounding with much reference to surfing. I’ve seen them live, too. They have 3 albums out. I like Once the best.

The Tyde

The third band that I recommend is the Quarter After. This band is Byrds influenced with chimey Rickenbackers and groovy lyrics. It is lead by brothers, Rob Campanella and Dom Campanella. Incidentally, Rob records and produces many of the bands I mention here. I was
fortunate to sit in on a Quarter After session a few years back.

Here’s my somewhat humorous review for their debut album:

The Revolution Is Coming Down!!!

I dig the Quarter After live and on record. They are nice
outstanding citizens who are dedicated followers of the
Revolution effort. If you don’t understand, look up the
Brian Jonestown Massacre.

Their song ‘Too Much to Think About’ can put you in a
trance if you are not careful. It takes you back to 1966
with some Raga-Rock influence. ‘Know Me When I’m Gone’
is my favorite track on the album. It is modern psychedelia.
Dominic’s singing is much like Roger McGuinn’s. Byrds fans
will love the Quarter After. Or any fan of the ’60’s or good music.

Quarter After is authentic and not cheesy. They do not
overdo it. Dominic’s 12 String Rickenbacker work is great.
Good harmonies too by Rob and various personnel.

The Quarter After has recently put out their second album. I have not got my hands on it yet but will review soon.

The Quarter After

The Quarter After

And last but not least is the band called the Brian Jonestown Massacre. These guys are pretty outstanding and have had a documentary about them already called “Dig!” This band is the one
that really should take credit for this revival in psychedelic sound. They have at least a dozen albums out. They are very prolific.

The Brian Jonestown Massacre

The Brian Jonestown Massacre

I hope you will check these bands out. They really cook.

2008 24 Apr

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.

Bob Dylan 1964

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.

The Byrds - 1965

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.

George and Ravi

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?

The Ragas

All the best,
Jim

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