Thursday, December 31, 2009

Tour Songs - Episode 13

We've logged a lot of hours riding around in the van, and thanks to Rod and his Billboard Top 100 CD's of the last 50 or so years, we've killed a lot of time listening to the hits. 1976, in particular had some cool stuff going on. But of all the hits produced in 76, Paul McCartney & Wings get my vote. The groove and the vibe of "Let Em In" is an instant mood lifter. I can't say we did it the proper justice, especially considering we learned it this morning and recorded it in one take, but that's what this blog is all about, so here you go...

Thanks for checking in. Were in Raleigh, North Carolina at moment getting ready to ring in the New Year at The Pour House. So Happy New Year everyone, were looking forward seeing you all in 2010.

Till next time...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tour Songs - Episode 12

Were back, and this time were bringing it to you from the mountains of North Carolina. Our friend Amy from somewhere outside of Asheville offered to put us all up for the night, but she had one request, a video blog performed live at her mountain estate. So we obliged. A few beers were drunk and this was the one and only time we've ever performed this song, so please keep this all in mind when watching the video.

I first remember hearing this song when I was a kid and watched the Woodstock Movie for the the first time and loved it, I was maybe 12 or 13. I thought the lead vocal was a little off and high, but that is part of what I thought was so cool about it. I immediately ran out and bought the soundtrack on cassette tape. I practically wore it out until my father took it away from me, after hearing Country Joe and The Fish chant, "Give me an F... give me a U...," and so on. I probably would have been cool had I not asked him to put on the that exact tune while the rest of the family and I were riding around in his car. I think I eventually got it back, I can't remember. I might have snuck in his car and stolen it back. Anyway, here is Yarn's take on Canned Heat's Goin Up The Country.

Till next time my friends...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Tour Songs - Episode 11

I know Kristofferson has already gotten some love on this blog, but damn it, he deserves more. When were out bus driving planet earth and aren't quite sure what to give a listen, Mr. Kris Kristofferson usually gets the call, and rightfully so. The man has written so many great songs, we could actually just do a blog called "Kristofferson Songs," and maybe we will. This is the most recent of his songs that got us itching to blog another. It was hit, i am sure you all know it, it's called Nobody Wins. Hope you enjoy.

Occasionally I'll jump in the back of the van with Ricky B., and we'll watch a movie. On our way back from Bristol, TN/VA a few weeks ago, I did just that. Rick had brought along a movie called Adventureland, so we threw it in his portable DVD player. There was a whole lot of talk about Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground in this movie, some loser musician would tell girls he jammed with Lou Reed to lure them into his bed, and the song Pale Blue Eyes must have played at least 3 times during the movie. It reminded me what a great song it was, so in the weeks following, The Velvet Underground got a bit if play in the van. And this past weekend while up in Albany, NY on our way to Burlington, we decided to sit down and give it a try.

Till next time folks...

Friday, September 11, 2009

Tour Songs - Episode 10

It's been over 2 months since our last episode, and for that I apologize, in between making the new record, traveling the earth, and wallowing in self-pity, it's hard to find time, so I felt I had to do something and it had to be done this morning.  

We were driving back from Wilkes-Barre, PA last night after our gig at River St. Jazz Cafe, and somehow The Kinks came up, Rod and I started trading Kinks' tunes back and forth and it triggered some good old childhood memories.  

When I was a kid and I got my first CD player, I think I was 14 years old, I was desperate to sign up for the 14 CD's for a penny deal.  Remember those?  They got everybody at least once.  I was having a hard time choosing from the shit they had to offer in the advertisement, but I did manage to come up with all my picks.  And of those choices was The Kinks' Kronicles, a double CD of some of The Kinks' greatest.  It was all I listened to.  And track 7 of disc one just absolutely crushed me.  Check me out below butchering this Kinks' classic.  

Till next time my friends...

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Tour Songs - Episode 9

Last month we hit the road with our new buds, The Josh Grider Trio.  I must say we had a good time hanging with these boys.  Our last night together in Atlanta, GA, we pulled out the video camera for a late night, hotel room jam session.  And seeing as how our performance on Mountain Stage is coming up this weekend, we thought we might pay tribute to the upcoming show.  
We finished up our last Spring run in Charleston, WV taping a live set for NPR's Mountain Stage.   We were actually treated with respect, from the dressing room to the catering, to the soundcheck, and all the way through the entire night.  It felt good.  I believe there were about 5 bands playing the show that night, we were slotted for 3rd.  We started our set with our new song, Abilene.  About a minute into the song, all the lights came on and alarms started blaring. Up until this point, we couldn't even tell how many people were in the theater, it was pretty crazy going from a view of darkness to a few hundred people sitting down staring at us.  Eventually the sound went too, but we kept on playing and the crowd started clapping to the beat, and the sound man brought the board back up.  I thought we were going to keep going and actually make it through.  But for safety reasons the theater had to be evacuated and we had to start our set over.  Maybe someone hated what they heard and was trying to sabotage our set, or maybe someone accidently pulled the fire alarm, who knows.  But I wouldn't of had it any other way, it made for one very memorable evening.

At the end of the night, everyone who took part in the show gets up to do a finale song, something the host, Larry Groce picks out.  This week it was The Meters' They All Asked For You.  This
 was quite possibly the most fun I've ever had on stage.  The vibe was really loose, Ruthie Foster was belting, Trevor was backing up on harmony, Rod and Andrew were trading solos, and I had the priveledge of singing the last first, as well as doing some drunken conducting routine for the band.

So in tribute to Mountain Stage, here is Jay Frederick, Josh Grider, Rick Bugel, Rod Hohl, Chris Grady and myself at 3am in a Atlanta hotel room singing They All Asked for You.  

This blog is for Josh Grider, Chris Grady, and Jeff Botta.  Thanks for making the road so much fun.  

Our Mountain Stage performance starts airing on your local NPR the weekend of July 10th. 

A complete list of stations that carry Mountain Stage can be found here as well as a link to our Archive show which will be posted the following week:

Mountain Stage Affiliates

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Tour Songs - Episode 8

Well I'm finally getting around to writing about how this blog idea ever came about.  A few months ago we were in Columbia, SC with our fellow Northeast Band, The Alternate Routes, playing a show at Sudworks.  They came as a duo, I can't remember the exact reason why.  But we watched their set, they watched ours, we hung around, drank some whiskey, and traded CD's.  Great dudes and a great set of music.  

So the next morning on our way to some other Southeastern Town, can't remember where exactly at this moment, we popped in The Alternate Routes, A Sucker's Dream.  Pretty cool stuff, very catchy, very well-done, and then this song came on somewhere around track 5 I believe.   It hit us like a freight train.  We must have listened to the song 20 times at least before getting back to NYC from that tour.  During these repeat listening sessions I thought of the idea to record cover songs we loved listening to on the road for a video blog.  The original idea was to right about them but then I thought we should just play the tune and video it, much more fun for the reader (viewer).  This was the song we were hoping to do for Episode 1, but Ricky B. stole the CD from the car that tour and we never had a chance to figure it out.  Luckily my roommate is The Alternate Routes' manager and gave me a copy of the CD a couple months prior to that night in Columbia, that I recently uncovered in my apartment.  

It took us 8 episodes to get to it, hope we didn't butcher it too bad.  The song is called Desdemona and was co-written with Patty Griffin.  Absolutely brilliant.  

FUNNY SIDE NOTE:  I'm in a hotel in Columbia, SC writing this blog right now.  Weird.  

That's all for now folks, we'll be back.  

Monday, June 15, 2009

Tour Songs - Episode 7

Trevor and I have been playing this song since we were in high school.  We would often jam on this tune at house parties and suburban fire pits.  In New York City about 8 or so years ago we started playing it again on a few gigs as a duo.  It was first performed by The Grateful Dead on February 28, 1970 at The Family Dog in San Francisco, California.  Which is kind of funny because Trevor, Shane, and I's old band was called Blake & The Family Dog.  If you ever feel like checking out what we were up to before Yarn, go to iTunes and search Blake & The Family Dog - Stolen Days, our first and only record.  

There is a recording of this song on the Garcia/Grisman Acoustic record which is definitely my favorite version ever put to tape.  Portions of that record have gotten a lot of airtime in good old Big White, and I am sure will continue to do so.  Here is Trevor, Andrew, Rod, and I stammering through The Grateful Dead's, "Friend of the Devil."

That's all for now, see you next time.  

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Tour Songs - Episode 6

Ricky Nelson has been a part of my life ever since I can remember.  My father is a die-hard fan.  Half the songs he played me on the guitar  growing up were Ricky Nelson songs.  There was no escaping it, I too would become a huge fan.  And it happened, and I believe it happened fairly quickly.  Perhaps I might have rebelled against Ricky some time between the ages of 15 and 17, but I'm not sure.  I can only embrace his music now and you all should too.  

The song we chose to do this episode is the song my father claims to have courted my mother with.  My dad is a smart man for sure, if there is a song out there to make a woman swoon, this is it.  Rick Nelson's "Sweeter Than You", and here is our go at it:  

I just realized there is a great sadness to half these blogs we've written.  Blaze Foley, Townes Van Zandt, and Ricky Nelson, all taken from us long before they should have been.  What is it about the great ones?  Whatever you do, don't turn out to be great.  Stay mediocre people and you'll live a nice, long, heathy life.  

And we'll leave you with a short clip of us butchering a great Ryan Adams song.  Perhaps we'll try this again sometime.  

One more kiss before we go...

That's all folks, see you next time.  

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Tour Songs - Episode 5

Well, it's been a couple weeks, so we got 2 for you. The first is a song by Lucinda Williams, called Drunken Angel and she wrote it about a songwriter friend of hers named Blaze Foley. I was first introduced to the music of Blaze Foley by my friend and musical brother, Rex Moroux. I was down in Austin, TX doing some shows with Rex, and he picked me up at the airport and he had Blaze on in the car. The 2 songs he played me were Clay Pigeons and If I Could Only Fly. These are 2 of the finest songs I've ever heard, truly amazing stuff. Blaze was a complete and total character and an absolute genius, he is missed dearly. Just last year his sister emailed us to tell what a fan she was of our music, she said that she felt Blaze would have really dug what we were doing. I couldn't have been more honored. I urge you to look him up and buy his "Live at The Austin Outhouse" Record.

We actually recorded a version of Clay Pigeons last summer in the studio, but have yet to let anyone hear it, maybe soon though. Here is mine and Rod's version of "Drunken Angel."

The next song has been floating around in our heads every since Rod started playing with us regularly. We used to play a club in NYC every week called Hill Country. After the show Rod, Shane, and I would come back to my place in Brooklyn and jam cover tunes till about 5am. Ooh La La was a regular staple at these sessions. So without further rambling here is The Faces' hit, Ooh La La.

That's all for now, see you next week, hopefully.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tour Songs - Episode 4

Some of us in the band got hooked on The Dead back in high school.  They've been pretty much a staple ever since.  In 1981, they released a record called, "Reckoning", an acoustic live recording, start to finish, a great record.  Seeing as how "Reckoning" had gotten quite a bit of air time in the old van (AKA: The Varn), we felt it deserved it's own blog.  

The Varn was unfortunately  laid to rest back in September when we hit a deer on Highway 78 in New Jersey.  The deer cracked our radiator in half and within minutes the car was in full blaze.  It was a strange night.  

"Reckoning" has yet to get any airtime in our new van, but I am sure it will eventually make its way.  Here is our version of "Dark Hallow."

That's all for now.  See you next time.  

Friday, April 24, 2009

Tour Songs - Episode 3

It was a rainy day in Portsmouth, NH and we had a few hours to kill before our show that night, so we decided to hit up the mall.  A luxury relatively unknown to New York City people, so it can be quite exciting, even if only for a few minutes.  Our drummer Jay unknowingly scored us our next Episode of Tour Songs.  He bought Neil Young's 1994 album, Harvest Moon, brilliant from start to finish.  It was a used copy, and there appeared to be one pretty hefty gash in the CD, so before we left the parking lot we decided to give a quick jump through the tracks to make sure it wasn't skipping.  So, we listened to a bit of Unknown Legend, moved on to From Hank to Hendrix, then a small piece of You and Me, paused for a minute on Harvest Moon, but when we got to track 6, not a word got spoken, not until it finished...  What a great song.

That's all for now.  Thanks for watching.  

Friday, April 17, 2009

Tour Songs - Episode 2

Our first song this episode was written by the great Kris Kristofferson. Kristofferson wrote this song while working as a janitor in a recording studio in Nashville, and it changed his life forever. He actually flew his helicopter to Johnny Cash's house and landed in his front yard to deliver the demo of "Sunday Morning Coming Down" to Cash personally. I don't believe he ever cleaned a toilet again after that day. Kristofferson put it on his first record and Johnny recorded it in 1970 and took it to #1. It just doesn't happen like that anymore. I wish I had a helicopter, and Johnny Cash was still alive, and I knew where he lived. Although I'm not quite sure I would have a song quite as good to hand to him.

Anyway, there is always time for this tune on the road, especially after a hard night. Here is mine and Rod's best attempt at not butchering a very sacred classic.

Upon recording what we thought was the most appropriate and accurate representation of the song, we thought that maybe an up-tempo version was in order. But the gods said, "NO."

Yarn loves the sad songs, and Townes Van Zandt sure knew how to write one. This next song is called "No Place To Fall" This is one of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard, Van Zandt was a true genius, and deserved a much happier life, although maybe he didn't really want one. Rest in peace Townes, we'll see you soon.

That's all for now, see you next time.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tour Songs - Episode 1

I had an idea to blog about the music we listen to when we are out on the road. We spend hours upon hours riding around in our 12 passenger Chevy express (AKA: Big White), a lot of music gets heard. But there are always a few tracks during each trip that we tend to listen to a lot, so why not talk a little bit about them and give credit where credit is more than due.

On our trip last weekend to Maine and New Hampshire, Trevor handed me a burned disc and told me that he found this website, it's kind of like, but instead has recordings of old live radio broadcast performances and studio outtakes. On the disc was Crosby, Stills, & Nash doing a version of "Everybody's Talkin'". Harry Nilsson did a great job making this song famous, but this CSN version really nailed it. So needless to say we listened to it several times on our journey through New England. Instead of just talking about it, we've decided to take a stab at recording our own version, while trying to do justice to the one we listened to over and over again in the van.

And that is the basic idea behind the blog, "Tour Songs". Who knows how many of these we will actually get done, but we will try to do at least one or 2 every month. So here is a video of Trevor and me singing "Everybody's Talkin'":

That song was originally written by a Greenwich Village folk-singer named, Fred Neil. Neil actually hung around with Stephen Stills and David Crosby back in the late 60's. What a tune. Hats off to Fred Neil. Thanks for the music.

Trevor and I decided to give one other tune a try last night. This next song has hung around through several trips and deserves a big old spotlight. On our last journey down south it got a whole lot of play time. Alison Krauss, Robert Plant, and T. Bone Burnett made one really great album last year called "Raising Sand" and they did a version of the tune "Killing the Blues" on it. The song was actually written by Chris Isaak's bass player, Roly Salley in 2005. I decided this would be the song I would throw on when things were feeling a little tense, it just sets a great mood, beautiful melody + dark lyrics, my kind of song. Not sure if we did it any justice at all, seeing as how this was our first attempt at playing these tunes, but here you go:

That's all for now. Thanks.