Tony at Gloucester Writers Center Rock’n’Roll Fish Tales

Last month, Tony told a story at the Gloucester Writer’s Center storytelling event “Rock’n’Roll Fish Tales“, alongside lots of great musicians, writers and storytellers.

Tony’s story about why Papas Fritas only played in Memphis three times during their many US tours features GG Allin, Alex Chilton’s bass player, a knockout punch thrown by a club owner, and some trumped up larceny charges.

A video of the full event can be found here.

In The Studio: May 2015

Jon Butcher jammed.  Lisa Manning performed poetry.  Telamor channeled Kanye. The Instinct mixed it up.  Mike Francis and Wren Sound created songs from thin air.  Hot Lemon squeezed out a mix. Pulp Free OJ squeezed out a senior project.  Don(na) Freylue started a track on acoustic.  Sonic Euphoria cut another collection.

Tony taught a Music Production and Engineering class through the excellent auspices of Sound Harbor.  Thanks to everyone who attended! Look out for more classes in June.

Also coming up in June:

Mosse is growing songs.  Jon Butcher is making magic, Spanish Castle style.  Sarah Kilborne is creating an audio calling card for The Lavender Blues.

In The Studio: April 2015. Upcoming: May 2015.

Here’s what went down at Bang-A-Song in April: The Heavy Denims rocked their roll.  Telamor recorded more. Don(na) Freyleue mixed the hits.  Satch Kerans mixed one of his.
Colin Rosso gave himself a beat and broke it down on the mic. The Instinct took LP 2 to the next level.  Geoff Small channeled Chris Bell (yes!).  Matt and the Lower Standards cut two soon-to-be standards. Lisa Manning cut 17 tracks for her fourth LP.  Soul Rebel Mike Francis and Wren Sound wrote some top lines. Jon Butcher showed us how it’s done.

Here’s what’s coming up in May: 05222015RockandRollFishTales

Monday, May 18thThe Goddesses help host Monday Night Open Jam at the Rhumb Line with an opening set at 9:30 and a closing set at midnight.  It’ll shake, it’ll rattle, it will likely roll.

Friday, May 22nd – Tony will be telling a story at the Gloucester Writers Center’s Rock & Roll Fish Tales event at Short and Main starting at 7:30pm.  Rock & Roll details will be divulged.

Saturday, May 30th – Tony will be hosting one of Sound Harbor‘s Spring Workshops at Bang A Song Studios. “In-Studio Production and Recording” will be a three hour workshop (1pm-4pm) for anyone who ever wanted a chance to learn record production by doing it: using microphones, mixing boards, effects and computer based digital audio workstations to make a recording. Reservations are $30, and you can sign up at soundharbor.org.

In The Studio: March 2015

The Instinct trusted theirs and ours on the way to their 2nd Bang-A-Song recorded LP.  Donald Freyleue finished up a long awaited 2-song single.  Jon Butcher continued to drive his 2 Roads East.  Nate Weaver and Brittany Betts got their Bang-A-Saturday session in.  Telamor recorded some more.  Heavy Denims laid down the glam. Lisa Manning committed more musical poetry to tape.  PRAY for MOJO had their prayers answered.  Daniel Dye left the Miller Road Band back home in Ohio to record some solo songs.  Geoff Small made music for his Electric EarsThe A Train Orchestra swung back in.  The Absolute Gentleman mixed an absolute smash.  Willie Loco Alexander sequenced his big 10″.  Hot Lemon squeezed out all the juice from a long weekend session.  wrensoundChelsea Berry cut one and done in a fortnight. The Rockport Middle School Chamber Music ensembles brought the clarinets and cellos to record their original songs.

Finally, Bang-A-Song‘s own Warren Babson released a new record: Wren Sound. We might be biased but WE LOVE IT! Pick it up via iTunes here.

In The (Open) Studio: January and February 2015

Dear Y’all,

Despite the snow, the winter has been warm at Bang-A-Song.  Thanks to all the Bang-A-Saturday Singers and Players.

  • The Wingaerchiefs
  • Tree House Charlatans
  • Kiva Trumbour
  • Wizard Cult
  • The Summit
  • The Rooftop Runaways
  • Nancy Grace
  • Syotos
  • Paul Robinson and The Boize
  • Christopher Anderson
  • Matt Bowie
  • The Dorymates
  • 3 Cool Cats
  • Seth Eberhardt-Ladd
  • Don Freyleue
  • Kai Freyleue
  • Nate Weaver and Brittany Betts

And many thanks to everyone else who’s been laying down tracks with us in the New Year 2015!

  • Annabelle Lord-Patey
  • Tom Hauck
  • Jon Butcher
  • Harhay
  • Simon Ritt
  • The A-Train Orchestra
  • The Electric Ears
  • Lisa Manning
  • Fly Amero
  • Steve Lacey
  • Satch Kerans
  • The Modern Kitchen
  • The Instinct
  • Heavy Denims
  • Pray For Mojo
  • Daniel Dye
  • Hot Lemon

Bang-A-Song Holiday Jam / January Open Studio Kickoff Party

Please join us Monday, December 15th from 6pm-9pm for the Second Annual Bang-A-Song Holiday Jam/January Open Studio kickoff party!  (Location, directions, parking, RSVP can be found in the Facebook Event link.)

We’ll have pizza and beer for jamming, instruments and amplifiers for eating.  Come meet Tony and Warren, sign up for a January open studio slot, and perform your best version of “Jingle Bells”, “Christmas with the Martians” or  “Santa’s Got an Airplane”!!!!   Kids are welcome.   After 9pm we’ll head to the The Rhumb Line Monday Night OPEN JAM to continue the merry making.  (Please help us get a head count by RSVP’ing via Facebook or via email to tony@bangasong.com).

Our Holiday Jam will also serve as the kick-off for January 2015’s “Bang-A-Saturdays”. Every Saturday in January (starting January 3rd, ending January 31st), from noon-5pm, we will open up our doors for slots of free studio time.  We’ll have Pro Tools on and drums, guitars, keys and vocals all mic’d up and ready to go.

Whether you’re a band that has never recorded before or an artist that has made numerous records, a songwriter who wants to record a demo or a beat maker who wants to cut a rap, a track producer who needs a top line or a home recordist that wants to hear their tracks mixed on a board to analog tape, please schedule a free session at Bang-A-Song.

Feel free to share with other musicians, and then email tony@bangasong.com or warren@bangasong.com to book a session any Saturday in January!

Best, Tony & Warren
Bang-A-Song

In The Studio and New Releases: December 2014

talkaboutthetruthpockettanyaTwo new releases from Bang-A-Song that missed the November “New Releases” cutoff!

Pocket Tanya implores us to “Talk About The Truth”.  Starting talking by downloading the single for just 99 cents from iTunes here.

remedychelseaberryChelsea Berry, meanwhile, has the Remedy.  The solo-acoustic remedy for whatever it is that ails you personally.  Pre-order now for December 12th release.

Meanwhile, underway at Bang-A-Song:

Sonic Euphoria are tracking some great Alice Cooper and ZZtop sides.  Lillie McDonough is cutting a calypso with strings, oboe and marimba among other things. Telamor are nailing number 3. Geoff Small, John Jerome and High Society are burning the midnight oil.  Simon Ritt is making movies.  Renee and Joe are mixing their latest magic. KBMG are bring Warren out of the studio to do an on location recording of their public show at the Old Sloop in Rockport on Friday December 12th. SAFETY are leaning new songs in Studio B for their show on December 26th at the CACCSatch Kerans is mixing more masterpieces.

New Releases from Bang-A-Song: November 2014

Here’s a list of recent albums that we’ve had the pleasure of working on at Bang-A-Song.  Click the name of the artist to read more about the artist, or click the name of the album to download or purchase the album.

TelamorValentine to the Future and Straight Shots
Willie Loco Alexander and the RaztonesRaztonia Volume 1
Mara BettencourtEclectic Soul
Jon Butcher AxisExperienced
The InstinctFake It
Anna RaeHigh Stakes
Alien Psychology: Alien Psychology on Sound Cloud
Renee and JoeSteal You Flowers
Kenny Chambers and Electric Ears: Someday You’ll Be King

valentine to the futurestraight shotsraztoniamara bettencourt eclectic soulTHEINSTINCTFAKEITanna rae high stakes renee and joe steal you flowers someday you'll be kingelectric candyland

And although it wasn’t recorded at Bang-A-Song, it was recorded *impeccably* by Ed Valauskas at Q Division, and Sam and Tony are sprinkled throughout, so…a big shoutout for “Electric Candyland” from Jenny Dee and the Deelinquents.  The album smokes, the bonus tracks that accompany it will rock your socks off (and be familiar to anyone who’s seen the Dees live), and there are even some glam new tees at Dee Store.

In The Studio: Aug/Sep/Oct 2014

Satch Kerans is mixing another great collection of songs.  Telamor is already at work on LP3.  Mary Lou Lord is this close to finishing her next record.  Kenny Chambers and the Electric Ears have finished their debut LP and sent it out for mastering. Pocket Tanya is keeping it unreal. Renee and Joe are warming our hearts out. The A-Train Orchestra are getting there fast. Susan Waller transferred tapes taped at the legendary Cameron’s. Pray for Mojo had their prayers answered. Mike Francis of Soul Rebel Project did some extracurricular overdubs for Mr. Babson. Scout did tracks on his own. Alien Psychology featuring Scout are working on tracks together. Jason Carpenter worked on his mixing skills. Chelsea Berry is recording her “living room” record. Megan McKenzie is making SAFETY happen. Jon Butcher is teaching us a thing or two about tone!

And then, right in the cracks between “In The Studio: July 2014” and “In The Studio: Aug/Sep/Oct 2014“, came this guy: Linwood “Woody” Becker Goddess.  We’re happy to have him!

photo 1

 

A Simple Sequence for The Beach Boys’ “SMiLE”

Dear Y’all,

I hope it’s okay to use my studio blog to publish a recent discovery about what was certainly the greatest studio recording of its time, The Beach Boys “SMiLE”.

A few months back someone sent me this link from Aquarium Drunkard to Brian Wilson discussing air pollution as recorded in May 1967 during one of the final SMiLE sessions.

Listening was a revelation, this quote in particular:

“Air pollution is something that has become increasingly more of a threat to all of us over the last ten years, especially in the last five years since the growing industry demands……and when I hear things like that it makes me want to get involved in this thing in some way, do my best. Ok. We, the way we can help is to make a record, and more or less present the facts in some interesting manner, not boring but in some way that people can retain these facts, and to sort of set up in their minds a goal to get rid of this shit! Because I’ll tell ya something, if it doesn’t subside I’m gonna call the cops!”

smileWhat is most striking, besides Brian’s humor, is his statement that SMiLE was intended to “present the facts.” For decades there was so little factual information about SMiLE that Brian’s intent to use SMiLE to “present the facts” is painfully ironic. It was a myth-shrouded, unreleased album which its very participants were unwilling to discuss, and when they did so, they often obfuscated. As the recordings slowly trickled out, they were bewildering in their obscure historical and musical references, and repeating lyrical and musical motifs. It was rumored to be a concept album, but the concept was abandoned, assumed incomplete. 2004’s brilliant “Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE” showed American history, the cycle of life, and the environment to be the major themes of the record, but they were presented as discrete movements. However, in light of the discovery of Brian’s statement of purpose, I would like to humbly suggest that the most logical way to “present the facts” would be to arrange the songs into a chronology. Doing so makes SMiLE come alive as a fable about the effects of the American century on the environment and our souls.

Side 1:

Prayer

Good Vibrations, the first song written for SMiLE, instantly introduces the album’s overarching theme of enlightenment, and the light and air symbolism that will be used throughout the lyrics and artwork.

“I love the colorful clothes she wears and the way the sunlight plays upon her hair/ I hear the sound of a gentle word on the wind that lifts her perfume through the air / I’m picking up good vibrations”

Heroes and Villains Pt.1 starts the story in the American West, our narrator on the run as he introduces himself and quickly flashes back to the beginning.

Wonderful, Do You Like Worms, I’m In Great Shape, Cabin Essence and Vega-Tables presents a broad history of The United States from the Native American Garden of Eden to the great California migration.

Side 2:

LOOK!, Holidays, Wind Chimes, Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow, Love to Say Dada, Child is the Father of the Man and The Old Master Painter take the trip from Kansas to the West ending in heartbreak over the effects of America’s progress.

Heroes and Villains Pt. 2 concludes the story with our narrator’s farewell address, signing off in hope that we’ve gained wisdom from his tale.

Surf’s Up is SMiLE encapsulated in one song. The moral of the story. One man’s enlightenment told through a sweeping history of civilization.

SMiLE was completely baffling to listeners in the decades after its non-release due to its radical production techniques and decidedly non-Beach Boys lyrical content, but it was actually very simple all along. Brian was at the vanguard of the “back to the garden” movement and SMiLE was his attempt to enlighten the masses.

“The lyrics present the listener with the challenge of taking them at face value or exploring them at deeper levels of meaning.” –Van Dyke Parks

SMiLE became an obsession for so many because it required the listener to explore those deeper levels of meaning if they wished to imagine the album had it been released in 1967.  “Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE” was so satisfying because Brian and Van Dyke were able to continue modulating SMiLE to reflect their present perspectives. There are a wealth of amazing websites (Arkhonia, Good Humor Smile), books (Domenic Priorie’s “Look! Listen! Vibrate! SMiLE!”) and official liner notes that attest to SMiLE’s ability to satisfy nearly any level of analysis, but this sequence makes SMiLE as easy to comprehend as grade school history.

Listen to the record, read the lyrics and study the artwork.   Follow the symbolism and explore the metaphors. Research the cultural and historical references. Read the wealth of Brian and Van Dyke quotes. When arranged as a history, every note, lyric, image, allusion and quotation within SMiLE has purpose and place. From “over and over the crow cries uncover the cornfield” to “columnated ruins domino” it all adds up to a fable intended to engender the enlightenment Brian Wilson had found.