“The Worst Horse” Liner Notes

December 28, 2013 in News Posts, Updates

Worst Horse Cover Image

We are delighted to present our first full-length album, “The Worst Horse.” Set for release this spring (date TBD), we have already sent advance copies out to those noble souls who pre-ordered the CDs.

Look below for liner notes and stay tuned for a more detailed rundown of each song here on our blog. All arrangements were created by Renegade Stringband, here are the songwriter credits for each track:

      1. Take My Hand - Jessica Jarris
      2. Let Your Heart Take You – Joe Seamons
      3. Keep Me Warm – Jessica Jarris
      4. Winter Wind – Jessica Jarris
      5. Bear Creek – traditional
      6. Lulu – lyrics are traditional, music by Joe Seamons
      7. Worst Horse – Austin Moore
      8. Dark Whispers – Joe Seamons
      9. Standing Here With Me - Jessica Jarris
      10. Forked Canyon Reel - Austin Moore
      11. Gettin’ Wild – Joe Seamons
      12. Wishing Well – Jessica Jarris
      13. Rhythm that Rhymes – Joe Seamons

 

Liner Notes:

“When you are determined to practice zazen with the great mind of Buddha, you will find the worst horse is the most valuable one. In your very imperfections you will find the basis for your firm, way-seeking mind. Those who can sit perfectly physically usually take more time to obtain the true way of Zen, the actual feeling of Zen, the marrow of Zen. But those who find great difficulties in practicing Zen will find more meaning in it. So I think that sometimes the best horse may be the worst horse, and the worst horse can be the best one.”

These words, written by Suzuki Roshi, have profound meaning for us as young musicians taking part in American acoustic musical tradition at the dawn of the 21st century. The bar has been set incredibly high by wondrous musicians who are too numerous to name. In studying this tradition while honing our craft–as individuals and as a band–we confront our imperfections, knowing that the point is to find meaning in the difficulty rather than frustration. The successes and joys we’ve found as a group have come from this shared understanding–that progress and process are far more gratifying than an obsession with the dream of perfection.

The first folks we’d like to thank are all of those friends and strangers who have hosted us in their homes and venues across America. The generosity we’ve experienced is truly humbling. To Emily Rome and Julia Moore, we would like to extend our deepest gratitude for your patience and support. Thanks also go to our most dedicated fans: John A. Duffy, Roger, Hannah, Berde and Al. Thanks to Jenny and Jack for coming to our rescue again and again. Thanks to Bob Stark for your keen ears and invaluable insight.

One Wonderful, All Good, Very Great Day! (Back in the Studio At Last)

April 18, 2013 in News Posts, Updates

We are excited to tell you that we just spent a glorious day in Oakland yesterday at 25th Street Recording with our dear old friend Scott Bergstrom, who is almost as great a recording engineer as he is a person. As usual, Scott went the extra mile and brought in a talented videographer, Chris Howard. We filmed two of our new original songs, and we recorded a third original instrumental. Scott and Chris are going to work their mysterious audio & visual magickery with the tapes (sadly, no actual tape was used) and then we will share the results with you!

So, a huge thank you goes out to Scott, Chris, and the fine crew that they assembled at 25th Street, check back soon to witness the results…

Head over to our Facebook page to see a few photos from the session.

Live at the Aladdin Theater! – March 16, 2013

February 22, 2013 in News Posts

Here comes one of the most exciting shows we’ve ever been invited to play! Last year, we had the honor of opening for The Paperboys on that most noble of holidays, St. Patrick’s Day.  We had such a mighty fine time that we decided to double up this year, meaning that we’re making a weekend out of the holiday, and playing on both Saturday and Sunday with the Paperboys this time around–first in Portland, then again at the Tractor in Seattle.

Thus, we are thrilled to announce that, the night before St. Patrick’s Day, we will be plying our trade on the boards of one of Portland’s premiere stages, The Aladdin Theater! There could not be a better band to share the bill with for this event, the Paperboys are dynamic and versatile as they come:

 

Get your tickets here: $18 advance, $20 day of the show.

2013 is going to be BIG!

February 13, 2013 in News Posts, Uncategorized

We have many reasons to be giddy about 2013, the first of which is our show this Thursday!  It’s our first time sharing a bill with Joe & Gavin’s side project:

We have many other scintillating shows to tell you about soon, but for now we want you to know that we just recorded demos for 7 of our new original songs. This recording session is huge and important step towards releasing our first full-length album! Check back in a week or so, and we’ll share a rough mix of a song or two from the demo session–there’s much more to come . . .

Northwest Folklife 2012

February 18, 2013 in News Posts

Six Tip Canarys performing on the street at the Seattle Center

Busking with Joy and Vigor at The Spot

We tried to leave early, but we’re musicians. Thus, we didn’t make it to the Forty First Annual Northwest Folklife Festival until about four on Friday. Max had class, so he had to join us later. We were all set to busk basslessly, but–wouldn’t you know it–the same forces that always seem to bless us at Folklife came through, and Ben Fox of the Warren G Hardings was able to sit in on upright for our first busking session of the festival.

Folklife is all about the busking, so I’ll offer a brief definition for those too lazy to google it. Busking is basically one rung up the ladder from begging on the street. Instead of a clever phrase scrawled on a sign, you’re offering classic forms of ear stimulation in return for people’s contributions. I’ve also heard buskers called “tip canaries.”

Busking at Folklife is ever so slightly insane. This is because, like wandering around and people watching, ever’body’s doin it. This means that, at any given moment on any given plot of real estate there at the Seattle Center, you can hear at least three and a half different musicianers pickin, singin, or just downright squallin out into the streets. So your ears are crowded. It’s hard to break through, much less draw a crowd.

Better folksters than I have no doubt written illuminating tomes detailing the various considerations and strategery that goes into choosing and utilizing a busking spot. No doubt some overzealous grad student has had a field day exploring the social psychology of the thing–and if you know of such a grad student who does the topic justice, please send me their work, it would be fascinating and deeply useful to many a hand-to-mouth banjo picker.

What I set out to say was that our spot during day one was no good–too much foot traffic too close. It was like a big herd of salmon pressing in on the little crowd that gathered round us. Them salmon practically were dragging people away with their ponderous energy. It wasn’t until Saturday that we found The Spot.

Now I can’t disclose the exact location, because if all goes well Renegade Stringband will post up there again next year (even if Lady Gaga takes us on tour as her opening act we’re still gonna be busking at folklife). What I can tell you is this: our spot was a busker’s nirvana. There was a wall across from us and other sympathetic architecture to make playin outdoors easier. Everywhere at folklife is so loud that it’s often a strain to hear a musician standin right next to you–nevermind one on the other end of a half circle of Renegades. There was foot traffic near, but not too hear… and, hell, there was even places to sit down! Absolutely first rate spot.

The other thing about busking is your presentation: do you ever bother to look at the people you’re trying to play for? (Probably not enough.) Do you ever tell them who you are? Do you have a legible sign? (Finally, thanks to Erik Sandgren, Kathryn Cotnoir, and Scott Schuff!) Do you give them reason to stick around, or do you debate which song to play next while your crowd quickly vanishes? (Definitely too much.) These are just some of the presentation issues you’ll find in the imaginary grad student’s busking research.

For us, Friday was really just all about getting it together. Looking for The Spot, saying howdy to old friends, trying not to gawk at all the beautiful women and cartoon-come-to-life Folks just a’ramblin round. Also, one must check out the snacks and beverages on offer at the performer’s Hospitality Tent. Folklife hooks it up with Dave’s Bread and free coffee, among other snacks and beverages, from 10am til 10pm, Friday through Monday. Clutch.

So after a few warmup busking sets, we went and checked out some deeply funky music up at the Mural Ampitheater Stage. It was hot and tasty, we were inspired.

Day Two – We Find The Spot & the Gypsy Cafe

Once again, we shot for getting there as early as possible on Saturday. And, Lo, most of us made it there before noon! We were busking in the sunshine before they ran out of Sin Dawg bread at Hospitality. We found a better spot, between the giant fountain and the Fisher Green, but it still weren’t ideal. Playing bluegrass acoustically in the middle of a thousand-person noise bath is hot and sweaty even in the shade. Direct sunlight just won’t do.

So, we tried going under some trees but the salmon run of gawkers was too much to combat. And then, at last, we found The Spot!  We must’ve played over two solid hours straight once we found it, and a purty consistent little crowd was gathered–some folks could even hear us well enough to do some dancing! Like this lady:

Ain’t nothin better than playin for dancers.

We durn near wore ourselves out the spot was so good. Playing two hours straight is fine if you have amplification–but even at The Spot you have to sing, pick, pluck and frail just about as loud as you can all of the time to be audible above the fray. But the crowds was kind, the tips rolled and trickled in steadily, and we kept at it with gusto.

So day two wound down at the Festival and we took off for the Gypsy Cafe, where we were slated to share the bill with the splendid musicians and lovely couple, Paisley and Todd ofPickled Okra.  It was a fun gig at a sweet little venue.  The crowd was attentive, the sound system was purty decent, and we played just fine considering we had already been serving up fresh live bluegrass for about 4 hours already that day.

Afterwards, we went back to Okra headquarters, where the Warren G Hardings joined us for medium-tipsy jams in the living room.  By the time we went outside, the mailman was making his rounds, it was already tomorrow.

Day Three – We play on an Honest to God Stage at Folklife and it goes Shockingly Well

We got to the festival with enough time to busk another 2+ hours before our Official Performance on the Alki Stage round about 5:50 in the PM on this fine Sunday. The weather continued to be glorious, and as we wandered between musicians and families, we looked at various kinds of awesome, here’s a taste:

One of the main thoroughfares, can you spot your faithful Banjist?

A run of the mill Awesome person doing his thing at Folklife

 

This Guy.

We have performed in tents of various descriptions on prior occasions, and perhaps the only consistent thing inside of those tents has been that the amplification of sound is always weird and difficult to navigate as an acoustic musician. So, we were surprised and delighted to find that either this was a special tent or else our soundman was a genius. The sound was great on the Alki stage inside the Alki tent! We soundchecked in about fifteen minutes, and by the time we were on about song three, roughly two hundred people had gathered. It was wild, because usually at outdoor festival gigs you are either famous and the crowd has been waiting to hear you all day, or else you’re unknown and have about half the people giving you one third of their attention three quarters of the time. Again, Lo, the spirits of Folklife blessed us, and it seemed like the whole durn crowd was listening for the whole of our allotted 35 minute set.

What a tent! What a soundman! What a crowd!

So there we were, playin like our lives depended on it and feeling the joy and release that every performer hopes to feel when he or she steps on the stage. It was the perfect capstone to an amazing weekend.

Afterwards, we listened to all kinds of sweet jams in the hospitality tent–gypsy jazz jams between strangers, Spanish Opera sung off the cuff, old timey fiddle tunes bowed by a dozen fiddlers at once, and the great Francis Brennan picking Irish tunes on the banjo, making it ring like a cross between a harp and a sitar. So much music, so much inspiration.

The unbelievable thing for us is that this is just the beginning–next month we’re going to drive to Kentucky and perform at the ROMP Festival there. It’s a whole other kind of festival, and it will, no doubt, be wild and amazing. But there’s no festival and no life like NW Folklife.

- Joe Seamons, May 31st, 2012

All photos by Northwest Outlook.

Colorado, Chicago & Kentucky – June 2013 Tour!

May 30, 2013 in News Posts

We are delighted to be hitting the road for ROMP once again here in the jolly month o’ June! This time, we’ve got some brand new states and venues to visit on our way there:

July 15 – Ft. Collins, CO  -  Hodis Half Note

July 18 – Denver, CO  -  Mercury Cafe

July 22 – Chicago, IL – The Tonic Room

July 25 – Chicago, IL – Martyrs

July 26 – Bloomington, ID – The Player’s Club

July 27 – 29 Owensboro, KY – The ROMP Festival!

More details and dates coming soon, see you out there, Amurica…

Folklife & Columbia City Theater This Month!

May 11, 2013 in News Posts

We have been invited to perform for a Jimi Hendrix tribute concert this year at the 42nd Annual Northwest Folklife Festival! The show will take place on the Experience Music Project’s Sky Church Stage. We’ll be performing one of Jimi’s originals as well as a song by Elmore James, one of the guitar visionary’s greatest precursors. Click here for all the details. The following day you can catch us again at the Festival’s Fisher Green stage for the Northwest Stringband Throwdown. We’ll go on at 6:00pm. If you Seattlites have other plans for Memorial Day Weekend, fear not, for we’ll be back in town on May 30th for a concert at one of the oldest and choicest Emerald City Venues, The Columbia City Theater!  We’ll be sharing the bill that night with Home Sweet Home and the great Simon Kornelis.  Tickets are just $6 if you purchase in advance! Stay tuned here on our blog for details about our shows on the Oregon Coast during the following weekend…

Live at Columbia City Theater