I’ve got some solo shows coming up and I always have fun doing them. What’s not to like? Plus, performing troubadour style is both liberating and terrifying. I can do whatever I want and the success or failure is totally on me. Fortunately, I always feel successful because its challenging and a bit intimidating so just making the gig is, like, victory.
I can yodel a little bit. Not like a milkmaid in the alps, but more like Jimmy Rogers. Who doesn’t like a good yodel occasionally? Evidently a few people. When I play solo, I’ll usually throw in a Hank Sr. or Jimmy Rogers song for kicks and I can’t think of a time that people didn’t dig it.
Except this one time…
I played a hipster place and it was lots of fun. People were generous with tips and gifted drinks, a bachelorette party took pictures with me and tried to bribe me to “be the bride’s last fling”–a joke I’m sure–and all the stuff that happens when people are having a good time and enjoying the show.
The management dug it so much they invited me to never play there again. Ever. Like forever, never play there again. For this, I blame The Yodel.
My after action report can breakdown the events and analyze my mistakes and missteps, but ultimately, the booker didn’t like me. It happens and I don’t feel anything personal about it. Its business. He did what he thought best and I did what I do. If those don’t converge for mutual benefit, they don’t. It isn’t personal.
It was a challenging gig to begin with. The stage was 20 yards from the nearest table and covered by an ungroomed tree that hung like a curtain over the stage. I didn’t clarify that it was outdoors which explains the tree. However, I’m sure it there were bars in Austin that had mature trees growing inside and over the stage, I’m sure this place would have had indoor trees.
My sense of what constitutes a reasonable effort in staging makes me feel like I need to see the audience or at least be in the same ecosystem with them. I took the liberty of fetching some hedge clippers to trim the tiniest bit of the cellulose curtain so I had at least a partial line of sight to the nearest human. I’m a musician not an arborist so I only cut about foot or so off three branches, just enough to create a small window to the audience. That was strike one. I’m not sure why, though. The manager got a little excited about it so I gave an appropriate number of apologies and moved on.
I’d taken my 16 year-old son to help me load in and set up. Like the ungroomed tree, my roadie also seemed to upset the bossman. For the record, this is not a violation of any local, state or federal law (http://www.oklegislature.gov/cf_pdf/2011-12%20INT/sb/sb1944%20int.pdf) but the boss was very concerned about the boy’s age. Regardless, this was probably strike two.
Then the opening act showed up. Nobody told me there would be an opener. That was a bit a a thing as well. Me and the other player worked it out but the boss wasn’t happy about that either. That’s probably strike three or at least 2.5 for him.
Because I’m semper gumby, everything else went fine. The people were friendly and receptive and that made up for the weird staging but the management thought differently. Even though it was a cool show for me and at least part of the audience, it was evidently not really the right type of cool because hipsterness aside, the management had several doses of pretense to go with their expensively groomed and waxed facial hair. That’s their prerogative and I get a business wanting to cultivate a particular vibe and clientele but they hired me to do what I do but expected me to be something else. Well, that’s show biz.
The next day, I got an email that explained my shortcomings: “you are not musically or stylistically right for us.” To translate in non-musician terms: “Your baby is both ugly and stupid. No offense.”
It had to be the yodeling. I think that’s where I went stepped over the line. I might have avoided it but that separation from the audience required me to go deep and went all the way inside my head. The sound was great because I had a full main stack for my monitor. It wasn’t loud, just all there. I brought a few lights because, you know, show biz. I pulled songs out of my catalog that I hadn’t played for years and I was getting most of the words and chords right.
Then…Long Gone Lonesome Blues just popped right out of me. It was good too. In fact, for me it was the perfect song at the perfect moment. It just fit exactly right and the crowd seemed to dig it. I mean, if you count clapping and whooping as a measure, which I do, lots of folks liked it. Most of all, however, was that I liked it and since I’m my biggest fan, that’s important.
Yodeling, even rudimentary yodeling like mine, is usually good with a drinking crowd. However, Yodeling isn’t particularly hip and this place really needed to see itself as hip.
I still do Long Gone Lonesome Blues when the mood strikes and I have a few others with yodeling parts I do on occasion. I’ve not lost any other gigs for those yodels or, for that matter, complaints. It doesn’t really matter. I don’t take my rejection from the pretentious hipster bar manager personally. Its his place and its his decision. He may have hated me personally and wrote that email with malice intended, I don’t know and it is of no consequence. I don’t expect everybody to love me.
It’s also not personal to me that a fire that destroyed the place a few months later. That was also business, not personal. In this case, it was the end of his business but that don’t affront me none.
I feel bad for the dude and the fire was probably was personal to him. It was probably personal to his insurance company as well.
Regardless, things happen for reasons that can’t be really explained or accounted for and taste is one of them. For me, I’ll have that pretentious $15 IPA with a side of Blue Yodel #2.
I’ve played more in the past 12 months than the previous 12 years but I’m still trying to figure out what I’m doing. I love doing this solo/singer/songwriter thing. My old pal Terry Ware was gracious enough to let me throw in with him on his regular hootenannies. Its going to be fun. I’ve got some new songs I’m playing for the first time also. That beats a poke in the poke with a sharp pig if you ask me.
Don’t take no nerve to do something ain’t nothing else you can do.
I wish those were my words but they are from John Ford’s 1939 movie, “The Grapes of Wrath.” I’ll confess that this has been my primary state of mind most of my adult life. Making the
best of dire and, at times, desperate situations seems like the overarching theme of my adult life. This is probably a wee bit melodramatic. My life hasn’t been exceptionally hard but its never been that easy either. I’ll spare you the details. We all have our crosses to bear. Somethings get easier, others, harder. We all get the same amount of ice only the rich get their’s in the summer and the poor in the winter. That’s how things roll.
I’m mentioning this because I just bought a bass amp. This is significant only because it’s my first investment in bass playing gear in decades. In fact, the last time I bought any bass gear was the last time the Ringos were a trio which was at least 20 years ago. I’ve been playing six string since 1990 but I’m the bass player again because necessity has required it.
Now, I love guitar amps but really only the six string variety and of those, I’ll never have enough because they all have some special charm that makes them irresistible. They’re so cute and sweet, as the The Colonel James famously said over a far less wholesome pursuit. I admit to feeling emotion about guitar amplifiers. Bass gear is more utilitarian to me so even spending a few dollars on it is strictly of necessity. What is most important at any given time? Necessity and little else.
When Corey Wyatt started playing drums for the Ringos about a year ago, our plan was to be a quartet with me and Heath Roach each playing guitar like we’ve done for the past 25 or so years. It didn’t work out that way. Bass player have always been scarce. Everybody wants to be the guitar hero except me, I just like to play so I stepped in and now we’re a trio again and its pretty swell. Regardless of that, I’m still asking the question of who or what the Ringos are today? I don’t know. We’re rocking, exploring the universe on sails of pure energy, melody, and sheer high decibel rebel yell unrestrained wall of sound music.
Peace and love y’all, Kelly
There are times when everything seems to just go to hell. Everything seems to change all a sudden, people freak out about everything and some of them have cause. I thought last year would be the long hot summer but I was wrong, every summer is a long hot summer one way or another.
But, this isn’t about anything in the news today. Its about everything in the news every day. It seems like nobody pays much attention to living in a house made of matches until it starts to burn and my roofs’ been on fire for the last few months. So it goes. I’m just going to keep on going and things with eventually even out.
I tossed together a sort of EP of tunes that seems to describe exactly where my head is right now.
Some are mine, some aren’t, listen to them, don’t listen to them, insufflate cement mixed with Elmer’s glue and put beans in yr ears. I’m not gonna tell you what to do.
Hope is an old tune that was recorded on tape. I think the mix is a bit bass heavy. What do you want for nothing?
I don’t know anything about this but that it came together one morning, including most of this recording, between breakfast and taking my youngest son to school a few years ago. I don’t know what it is other than that.
This is my hopped up high school queen arrangement of a Tom Waits song. Who doesn’t love Tom? Don’t tell me if its you, dear reader. I don’t want to know.
I think this may have been the first thing I recorded all digital. It doesn’t sound bad considering the dinosaur powered gear I had at the time.
What If We Fell In Love With Love
I started this as something I could play my Telecaster with tremolo with. Then I came up with a melody and some words that are pretty goofy—at least the chorus is. I can’t decide. Its such a fine line between brilliant and stupid. You can tell me if you think its brilliant. I don’t want to know otherwise. The kick drum sounds great to my ears.
Its about the musical which I’m not particularly fond of having been force fed it my entire life. I’m not that hip to musical theater in general. For those who love it, like the character in this obscure Kinks song, whatever gets you off is fine with me. Live and let live and I think we can all try a little harder to be cool to one another all the time.
In summation, hows’ about we all just try to make it through the rest of the summer as cool as we can be and maybe walk a little softer, smile a little more to each other, pet our dogs, love our kids, and get tall, take a walk to china or try to sell me South Carolina, and go see the Mighty Mezz with our pants on as often as seems appropriate.
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.
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…
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.
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)
I’m not sure what to say about this except I recorded this for my pal Howell Grayson a few years back when I was helping him get his website running. He trains cattle dogs and does freeze branding. He didn’t ask for a jingle, but I made one anyway.
Crosshill Ranch Jingle: Listen or Download
Follow Me Down: download or listen now!
I like to play and sing in public. That’s the whole of it. I just like it. Some folks like the way I do it and some don’t. Neither affronts me much because I really, really enjoy performing. I want people to like it but it isn’t a prerequisite for me. I’ve been playing solo more and more over the past few decades and back in my working-all-the-time days, I usually opened the second or third set with a brief solo set if I got impatient with the rest of the dudes coming back from break.
Recently, I played a full set at an undisclosed location and really had a good time.
Me and my boy Ed decided to go to an open mic night but a few libations and conflagrations got in between us and the venue so we didn’t get on the list until the tail end of the night. The MC spent most of his time in the parking lot smoking dope which meant the first act played a full 90 minutes before the dude started keeping the show moving. I’m like a race horse kicking the stall ready to run and watching anybody for any length of time just gets me more and more pumped until I’m just about fit to be tied. I don’t get nervous, but I do get pumped and by the time my set started I was ready, really really really ready to go.
I don’t know if it was any good, but it was fun for me and one of the few people there said my set was a “beautiful train-wreck.” He meant it as a compliment and even though my set wasn’t perfect, slick, or coherent a bit of the time, it was fun and had a few moments of brilliance.
At least that’s how it felt to me.
Here’s a song I did for the first time in public. I’m putting it up because I think I’ve decided to not put it on my upcoming record of chart topping hits.
That’s all it is.
Download: Kelly_Raines:_The_ Greatest
This is an experiment I just finished. Listen to it, don’t listen to it, stick your fingers in your ears and say “LA LA LA LA LA.” I enjoyed the hell out making it and, as I always say, I’m my biggest fan. I really like how this turned out.
I enjoy recording songs I like and I’m not too elitist to not dip into other writer’s ponds to take in the waters. I record it, rearrange it, try something different, and see how that messes your baby up, leg. There’s a discipline at work as well. In keeping the habit of sitting at my workstation, mashin’ the red button, and creating an ungodly tangle of cords, instruments, and chaos, keeps my muse happy.
But I don’t have to explain or defend this song or any others. I’m an American, dammit, and I can sing and play and record whatever, when ever, by golly!
Yes, anyway. I had an idea in my head which started from a corrupted mp3 file of a Cat Power song. It was her doing a stripped down version of this song on French TV.
The file corruption made this strange echo/tremolo effect when it diced the song into second or so chunks and then repeated them 10 times or so. When I first heard it, I was angry because my beautiful rendition of Chan’s song was wrecked. Then, almost as quickly, I realized the corruption revealed a sort of melodic depth not present in the song under normal conditions. I listened to it over and over and over, mesmerized by the crazy tremolo echo time stretching file fubar.
But, Chan Marshall isn’t Justin Bieber and her lyrics don’t always have an even meter or rhyme or any of those things which make singing along easy. My attempts to capture the sound were hampered by the simple fact that I couldn’t get the song’s non-linear structure in my head.
Then I had the shazaam moment walking from my car to my office a week or so ago. Suddenly, the whole song was playing in my head and I could remember the lyrics, the odd phrasing, and everything else.
That night, the whole thing came together in a flash. I rather like the way it turned out. I was certainly fun.
If there are excesses, it might be the heavy use of effects. I considered many vocal treatments and ended up with one that is not very subtle. However, the echoing, trance-like sound was the sound in my head and what I was after. Overly obvious effects almost always seem to sound stupid in retrospect. Then other times, it’s perfect. There’s a fine line between brilliant and stupid and who knows where it is at any given point? Not me.
Listen To This Now: Dogs, Okies, etc, or Download.
My name is Kelly and I’m an Oklahoman. In many ways, Oklahoma has never really progressed beyond the depression. With the excitement of the land runs, the fortunes made in the early oil business, and the entertainers who sold the country on the Oklahoma ideal like Will Rogers, Tom Mix, Pawnee Bill, and others, Oklahoma began statehood as a colorful and exciting place in the national mind.
Then the depression came and public opinion changed almost over night.
The economic and technological forces that pushed the folks west in attempt not to starve, affected every agricultural part of the country but for reasons unknown they all came to be known by the pejorative Okie.
I wrote this song after the birth of my first three children and the realities of providing for them gave me a few moments of abject terror. I wondered how desperate one would have to be to sell everything, pack up the kids, and make a hazardous trek half a continent away with little more than false hope and desperation as a guide. I’ve read accounts of Jim Crow like prohibitions posted on signs throughout the Southwest intended to separate “Okies” and other undesirables from the rest of society. I’ve enough time being a vagabond to understand that the world doesn’t really greet the poor traveler with open arms.
The original lyric contained some words which, while historically accurate, were hard to hear. These handful of words are hard enough to hear that I was concerned they’d render the rest of the song invisible. History and truth often aren’t pleasant or palatable. Because of these few words and their implications, I let the song alone for 12 years because I couldn’t come up with alternative lyrics which didn’t seem dishonest or lame.
Recently, I was listening to “Snow Day” by the woefully under-appreciated Trip Shakespeare and the term “vagabond” jumped out. That was the key for how to alter the lyrics slightly without losing anything and making it possible for me to perform in public without trouble. I came upon an idea for how to change the 3 or 4 difficult words in a way which didn’t seem stupid.
I’m happy with the result. Then, I’m my biggest fan so don’t listen to me.