Morsel #21: Borzage!

Morsel #21: Borzage! – Sounds like something you yell right before you crash into something. Also, it’s the last name of a legendary director (first name Frank), who made a silent film I got to score a few years back for Fox, called Lazybones. Here’s some pastoral acoustic music to take the edge off. Featuring Bryan Pezzone, piano; Sheridon Stokes, flute; John Goux, guitar.

“Where’d You Dig Up That Old Fossil?”: Episode 3

For the third episode of “Where’d You Dig Up That Old Fossil?” we travel in the way-back machine to the ’90s, to my first TV spot: for Northwest Natural Gas. I was hired by KVO in Portland, an agency I’m pretty sure hasn’t existed there for a long time. They hired me because they had $500 and I needed the experience. In return I gave them the best music I could produce at the time, in my dark, dank basement, directly from my QS8 “Classical” Q-card and my brand-new Roland JV-1080 (which I still have, use and will never get rid of). Dig that horrible “JV Strat” guitar patch!

[Dorked-Out Music Gear Paragraph Ahead!] Other production tools included an Opcode Translator ProSync for SMPTE sync to the VHS, a cool version of Pro Tools that came bundled with my Audiomedia III PCI card, and my Metro sequencing software — all running on my PowerCenter 133 Apple clone computer. Oh, and my Mackie 1402VLZ mixer.

The TV spot involved a hypnotizing electric burner that they wanted scored like Vertigo, then, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, then generally western-ish as the gas man rides off into the sunset because, y’know, he gave them gas. So that’s what I was scoring to, even though it didn’t make much sense to me and they kept rejecting versions that were more original. This was my first experience doing this thing that I love to do, where I didn’t actually love doing it.

Still, after it was done, I remember sitting on the couch, and the spot coming on TV…it felt like being a rock star. Though in an analogous scenario it’s more like being on stage and throwing my own panties at myself while I perform. But you get the idea.

Here’s the score, in all its derivative, synthy glory. Obvious apologies to Bernard Herrmann and Ennio Morricone.

Morsel #20: Noir-Toon!

Morsel #20: Noir-Toon! – You know when cartoon squirrels want to pretend they’re 1940s Humphrey-Bogart-Maltese-Falcon-y gumshoes? Yeah, you do. Here’s some music I wrote for when that happens.

“Where’d You Dig Up That Old Fossil?”: Episode 2

This second episode of “Where’d You Dig Up That Old Fossil?” takes us back to, I think, 1996. The assignment: music for a boring talking-heads-testimonial industrial video that’s about 15 minutes long. Oh, and can we have it in two days? And for almost no money? That’d be great, thanks!

I didn’t have enough on my reel that I could say no. The good news was it didn’t need a score so much as a music bed, which meant that I could write three or four minutes, then loop and layer and that would pretty much be that.

Who likes smooth jazz? You do. And so did the client. So that’s what I wrote, using my old Alesis QS8 keyboard (which you can see fossilized in the picture above) and DM5 drum machine. The best part was that I got to work with one of my favorite guitarists and a Portland jazz legend, Dan Balmer. I remember recording and mixing the music at Rex Recording in Portland. Is that place still there?

The music sure sounds dated — especially the samples — but it brings back good memories. Here’s a snippet of it, including Dan’s solo work.

Morsel #19 – Skydiving and Math

Morsel #19: Skydiving and Math – In this retro-styled animation I scored for, skydivers fly in formation, while solving math problems. If that had been me skydiving, the only problem I’d be trying to solve is how to not poop my pants. Also, this features the very talented Fino Roverato on guitar.

“Where’d You Dig Up That Old Fossil?”: Episode 1

I took a trip back into my musical archives recently. It’s fun, and sometimes horrifying, to listen to things I wrote or was otherwise involved in producing – some of it goes back 20 years or more. And now I want to share that fun/horror with you, in a series I’m calling, “Where’d You Dig Up That Old Fossil?” The first episode: Pickled Beets.

Back in the ’90s, my friend Chris Wilson and I wrote a song called “Pickled Beets,” a ridiculous twangy tune that quickly became one of our favorites to play live, in our band The Underhills.

A year or so later, when I needed music to fill out my meager advertising reel, I re-purposed “Pickled Beets” into a fake jingle. It’s hard to believe that in spite of its awful MIDI-fied sound and production value, it helped me land a big job composing country spots for Hardee’s. But it did.

So the moral of the story: You should put only your very best stuff on your demo reel. Plus one crappy-sounding jingle about round vegetables.

Morsel #18 – Running

Morsel #18 – Running: I wrote this for a TV spot that featured a jogger out for a pre-dawn run in the city. Since I have little to no experience with that sort of insanity – and intend to keep it that way – composing this music was a true test of my imagination.

Morsel #17 – The Ultimate Hurt/Omelette.

Morsel #17 – The Ultimate Hurt/Omelette: Nothing shakes off those mid-winter doldrums like an omelette. For Hardee’s, recorded in Nashville, lyrics by Austin Howe, produced by Cathy Curran, who is also my sister.

Now, Where Were We?

Ever have one of those times where you get up in the morning and throughout the day you keep reminding yourself to do something and then not doing it and then suddenly it’s the next day and the same thing happens and before you know it it’s been two years and you still haven’t done the thing you were supposed to do? Well, that happened. In between composing music and working on a new album, postings to this site were relegated so far to the back burner, they fell off and into that dark, mysterious area behind the stove where nobody ever looks, until you decide to paint the kitchen or something, then you pull the stove out and god knows what you’re gonna find down there.

Point is, we’re back! And with a new look, new words and a revamp that I hope you enjoy.

Which brings us to the flag of Labrador you see above. The band that my friend David and I founded some 20+ years ago – Chip & Drifty – we’ve been working on an album over the past couple years. We’ve got 11 new songs, many of which we’ve released as EPs over the past year or so. The full album will be released soon. Meantime you can check out the EPs and watch some videos here. You can also listen, right here, to one of my favorite tracks on the album, “Labrador,” which features the swinging upright bass of jazz veteran and my very first music teacher, Tom Wakeling.