Nonspecific Auteuritis

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My process looks something like this.

I record. Sometimes I make music that goes perfectly with a particular project and sometimes they

don’t.That affronts me very little. There’s something always cooking in the creative cave and that whatever will be, is gonna be, know what I mean?

Do these songs go together? I don’t know. I picked them from my library of finished/unfinished tunes. Modern technology allows endless revision and without that “nation of fans I can’t let down” waiting for me to finish, it’s all too easy to keep going ad infinitum.

I’m letting go of these three.

Window Man

I wrote this a long time ago and it was a staple of Ringos shows for a long time. I was tired of by the time of the Under the Double Eagle sessions so it wasn’t ever formally released. I think we made about a hundred demos of it including two recorded at the famed Metro Studios in Minneapolis. I was living in an East Norman ghetto apartment complex and there was a voyeur I ran into a few too many times. I regularly took a shortcut between buildings to the parking lot and the perp would scurry off into the darkness like a raccoon caught in a trash can. I tried to imagine myself in his place and this was the result. If I recall, I wrote it on Easter Sunday in 1987 which explains that reference.
A few years ago, I had a sick child to care for and during their naps, I recorded most of this. I stole the guitar parts directly from Forrest Walsh’s parts from our earliest demo. I like how this turned out. Just a few more tweaks and I’m finished…

Ball and Chain:

This is one of those tunes that hangs around in your head for a long time in fragments then suddenly rushes out all at once. I had three distinctly different riffs/ideas hanging around for quite a while, then suddenly, in about five minutes, they all came together and this song was the result. I didn’t really have to mess with it much after that initial burst. No matter how many times I mix it, it comes out sounding pretty good. It’s funny how some tunes can be fussed over and fussed over and never sound how I want but others just seem to be made of magic beans and pixie dust and are un-fowl-up-able.

Hot ‘n Nasty

I love Humble Pie. Steve Marriott wasn’t as popular as he should have been, but that’s show biz.
I recorded this a few years ago when I was playing with a new mic pre on a new cowbell. Its pretty cool.

All tunes © 2015, Raines Bros. Music (BMI)

Junior Barnard’s Blues

Junior Barnard’s Blues for download–get it now!

Junior Barnard was a guitar player Bob Wills nicknamed “Fat Boy.” What does this have to do with me? Nothing, but he inspired me to name this very limited release, mid-nineties, record after him.|

Junior Barnard- guitar player, ladies' man, Fat Boy. He lived fast, died young, and left a trail of broken hearts and broken strings behind him.
Junior Barnard- guitar player, ladies’ man, Fat Boy. He lived fast, died young, and left a trail of broken hearts and broken guitar strings behind him.

I’m putting this up here because my pal Rick Foster will not stop pestering me until I do.

I kept a traveling bag packed and in use from about 1984 until 1996. I was traveling when I wrote these songs and a lot of them have that high, hard and lonesome feel I think reflects that sort of life. I finished my M.A. in 1995 and immediately suffered that big “what now” feeling lots of people have upon reaching a difficult milestone. This record was what came out of that crisis but I didn’t really get the chance to promote it much. Too much stuff got in the way I neither want to revisit nor bore others with the details.

I sent it around to the record labels where I knew people who would play it and didn’t do much else. I got a few calls back including a delightful surprise from my friend Hanna Bolte who I didn’t know was working for a major label and somehow noticed my tape in somebody else’s inbox. Life is strange.

Since I first started soliciting interest in my music back in the stone age where guitars were powered by small dinosaurs on treadmills inside the amp cabs and music was distributed by mail and sold in places like TG&Y, I noticed how music projects took on a life of their own once released into the wild. Even though I never got anybody to drop a container ship full of advance money on me to record for them–at best all I got was a very small dingy partially filled with pocket change–my tapes and cds ended up in places I never could have expected.

I’ve kept all the rejection letters I’ve ever gotten because they represent and acknowledgement that somebody listened and said no which is better than nobody listening at all. If the choice is being ignored or being rejected, I’ll take rejection. I suppose I’m a bit odd that way.

Better To Reign in Hell Than Serve in Heaven

Store front church, N.E. Oklahoma County, Spring, 2015

The title comes from something that guy Milton wrote in Paradise Lost. I think this is oddly alluring statement if you think about it and I have. To me it seems like Milton is talking about living by ones’ own rules rather than accepting societies’ rule without question. Maybe not, but that’s how I’m interpreting it and it is also the way I try to live.

The world demands conformity and I am far more conformist than I think a lot of people give me credit for but neither conformity or what people think of me matters very much.

I just don’t care too much about too many people’s opinions about how my behavior measures up to very many people’s expectations. I am what I am and that’s all I can be. That’s a problem in a world that demands conformity. Everybody has their own cross to bear and perhaps this is mine.

What’s that have to do with this music? Here’s how:

Ed Cotton and I recorded these songs April 2013 in preparation for the Southern Gospel act we devised for the Jax Beach Blues Festival. We had less than two hours of actual rehearsal for the show since he’s in Jacksonville and I’m in Oklahoma City. We overcame this limitation with sheer reckless disregard for our dignity and a few doses of brown liquor to keep our feet held down to the stage.

I like how it worked out. It wasn’t slick but we rocked it natural, walked on water, fed the multitudes, and achieved total transcendental consciousness. I think the audience went along with us and if they didn’t, I’m the only one in the audience I really care about pleasing and I came away spirit filled and sanctified.

What I’m trying to say is I had a really good time

I grew up going to a medium sized Southern Baptist church and loved the gospel quartets that the church hosted during revivals and other events.The music has a mark on me that’s as deep and permanent as the six scars I carry on my face from childhood. Regardless, I love Southern Gospel, Spirituals, and the traditional blues and folk music that came from the same cultural and ethnic traditions.

This sort of music speaks to my soul in the deepest way possible and that is as close to God as I’ll likely ever feel. Considering that my use of the word “God” in this context is amorphous and mercurial causes me to land on people’s prayer lists more often that they’d ever be willing to admit. If I were a diciple, I’d be Thomas because nothing seems fixed in this world. When I was a child, I saw things as a child and now that I’m a man-child, I see things differently. However, religion seeks certitude and that’s a quality in mighty short supply to me most of the time. If folks need to see me as a blasphemer or heretic, that’s perfectly OK with me. I see myself as a person who loves what is more than what could be, should be, or might be a pie in the sky when you die.

If folks find my true love for Southern and Folk Gospel ironic or somehow not entirely sincere,  I don’t know how to counter that perception. I’ve included gospel and spirituals in shows for a long time because when the spirit calls, I answer. The spirit might call for AC/DC or it might call for Mahalia Jackson. Its the same to me. Gospel and Folk is a dominant sound in my head no matter what I’m playing.

What I most definitely am not is an evangelist. I can’t explain anything further than to say “nothing sits like this rock sits” and,  “I am as God made me” like a wiser man than me once said.

Even though other people’s opinions aren’t on my list of priorities in many situations, I have to admit that I take it personally if I am cast as Satan in anybody’s conversion testimony. For the record, I am Satan in one quasi-evangelist’s testimony and I didn’t take it personally. However, I researve the right to take offense in the future if I decide to.

If I’m a bad influence, it’s mostly only to myself and I’m not so bad most of the time.

Impedimenta, Etcetera

Impedimenta: im·ped·i·men·ta  pl.Ringos_of_Soul_Impedimenta_EtCetera-Cover-300x229n. Objects, such as provisions or baggage, that impede or encumber.

I had an analog studio until about 1998. My tape machine, a Teac 80-8, had about 25 years and tens of thousands of hours on it and was becoming dangerously unstable.

Providence smiled on me and at the moment I began to despair at the lack of money I had to replace the tape machine, Digital workstations were becoming affordable to those who could figure out how to make the way out on the edge gear work. I was and did convert to digital and continued writing and recording. The Teac didn’t come out of storage for ten years after I went digital. I decided to sell the Teac before it became of no more use than a boat anchor with VU meters. Before selling it–a distinct point of no return– I decided to digitize whatever seemed worth keeping.  The Ringos’ Under The Double Eagle sessions were all I decided worthy from the dozens of reels of tape I had stored.

There were problems with the transfers but digital editing allowed me to fix all the damage to the tapes and problems with the transfers. Once that was done, I had an interesting project ahead of me I figured would take a few months to finish. After I had the edits made to patch all the tape fubars, I started hearing things I’d always hated and decided to fix those. Then I had to come up with a basic sound design I could live with. At this point, I’m six months into the project and can’t see the end. I found this project to be consuming all my creative energy despite there being no particular reason to do it in the first place. It isn’t as though The Ringos have a nation of fans waiting for this or anything else. But like any worthy adversary, this project demanded I see it through.

By the time the project began to take shape, I realized there was something quite different than a mere remix coming out of the sessions. One song was missing completely and three others–unfinished from the original sessions–were now complete. Eventually, I discovered I had used alternate takes of songs instead of the originals. I figured out that the project had become  something different if not all together new from the original 1991 release. I was ok with this idea. It was my project and I had to please nobody but me.

More iterations followed. Hundreds of mixes were completed only to be scrapped. At the 18 month mark, I began to feel this twenty year old project hang on me like God’s own millstone. New projects were going unrecorded. Older ones were left fallow. The question of  why do it at all nagged at me? I suppose it seemed unfinished despite the release from 1991.

Almost as soon as we finished it, I stopped being happy with the original release. Despite being satisfied with the performances, the energy, and the production, the mixes were weird. It was what we wanted at the time but they sounded dated and stupid as soon as we finished them. I made mistakes in both the sound design and execution of it on the original mixes. We got what we were after–a huge overblown ’80s ROCK SOUND with some nasty digital and analog noise thrown in for good measure

Why did everybody think all those digital effects boxes made every guitar player sound like the second coming of Hendrix, Hank, and Jesus rolled into one? Why did we all think that replacing real drums with grainy samples saturated with white noise reverb patches made every drummer sound like John Bonham. I don’t know. Why do so many recordings from the ’70s sound so great to me now and so boring to me then?

Regardless of the shortcomings, we finished. We not only finished it, we packaged, distributed, promoted, toured on it, and actually sold about 1000 copies.

I don’t know that this turned out “better” than the first go around but it is finished again and that’s it.

That is the whole of my explanation. This is the stuff one must carry around in order to do whatever one has to do. It is also everything else besides that.

Impedimenta, Etcetera.

It is finished. Onward.