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. I should have known it would wait until an election year just to because those aren’t already irritating enough.
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.
I’ve been saying for the past 18 years that if my kids ever figure out how to conspire, whatever imaginary sense of order there is in my house will be over. That seems to have happened recently and, well, it’s something only slightly different the usual chaos but its different sort of chaos and I don’t like it. No sir, not at all.
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.
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.|
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.
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.
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.
It is finished. Onward.