The Story Of The Grimm Generation Part 5

At this time, we were also getting played on the radio pretty regularly. Local Homegrown type shows that we always submitted to, quite a few radio interviews as well. The most exciting thing was that Grimm was getting played on the big broadcast FM station in my growing up area 99.1 WPLR was playing us on their Local Band Show. Not during Prime Time, sure, but I grew up on this station and it felt pretty great. All my old friends were impressed.

We were not making money quickly enough so we begged and borrowed cash where we could to start the sessions with Tyler. We had a series of practices split between the House of Grimm and Kerry Carriage House practice space. We worked on details, tightening. Lys started playing a mean electric guitar as much of this material was rocking. 

We started recording on a Saturday and as expected, Kerry was first up with drum tracks. We actually had the whole band wired up down there to the best effect. The basic tracks were Kerry and my acoustic guitar and Carmen’s voice. It was such a different vibe from recording in Storrs with the Scamp. It was very professional. It was not nearly as fun. 

I think that same description could be said of GG around that time. We were achieving something trackable, something noteworthy. But even then, I could see the cracks start to develop. This was our dream, Carmen and Me. This was not their dream. We were asking a lot of everybody with a constant gig schedule and little pay. 

What we were doing was exciting, to all of us I believe. We were striking out with a unique type of Pop Music that was quite difficult to fit into any genre. We would stick with the ‘Indie Rock’ tag because that was the closest. By this point, our New World of Facebook was getting crowded in addition to the constant urging of Facebook to pay, pay, pay. The ground was shifting beneath our feet and I am not even sure if we were aware of it. By this point CC and I had been operating GG for about 5 years. And despite our constant cheerleading and trumpeting the ‘Cause,’ even we were wearing a bit thin with each other.

We had been having a single conversation for years and the frequency was insane. We had days where hundreds of notes flew between us. Texts likely even more. 

Recording what would become ‘The Big Fame’ continued with band members scheduling their time with Tyler, showing up and leaving tracks. Tyler would send rough tracks that we would all obsess over though mainly Lys, CC and Me.

We added a song from the GG3 days into the mix as well because ‘Real Bad Voodoo’ had a perfect presence among these tracks. We invited Dave Hogan in as he played on that track more than everybody and he was cool enough to do a couple of other tracks as well.

Retrospect. That is really where the gold gets separated from the stones. We should have had him play on the record more. 

The main difference in sound between the first record ‘The Last Record Party’ and our next full length ‘The Big Fame’ came from the band we were working with who had been playing these songs out in the World with us for over a year. Where, for ‘The Last Record Party’ we asked people to participate and make it awesome, this band knew exactly what they were doing far before we booked the date with Tyler. The other difference was in the songs we were producing which came from a slightly different place than previous, by this point Carmen and I had been writing regularly for a few years and the increasing confidence and inspiration coming from sounds that were around us which was no longer Classic Rock. 

Carmen was the first person I knew who discovered new music online. It seems silly now, but fact was, before Spotify, it was YouTube. And Carmen was always on the hunt. She introduced us both to some higher quality sounds, some different sounds. And the new sounds were creeping into our work. We just wanted to be a Rock Band. Now we wanted to be something more. No…that is not true. We did not want to be more than a Rock Band. It was something that was happening beyond our control.

‘The Big Fame’ starts with my song. ‘Earthquake, Hurricane, Flood and You,’ which was a true story. The year around the recording was simply madness with the major weather events that were happening. This was a love song in my style before I became better at love songs. I love this song like an errant mischievous child. It starts with that chug which always fires me up. We worked with the right Drummer on the record as Kerry provided that fast, unrelenting beat that everyone laid into. This featured Lys and Dave on monster guitars. I loved the way they played off of each other which was even better when they did it live. Lys had a Mustang that roared and perfectly abetted Dave’s cool Les Paul sound. Julie cello on this was perfect and nearly unbelievable. Who would even put Cello on a song like this? We would. Also, one of my livelier harmonies. I did not sing a single song on this record. This was the Grimm show and that put Carmen in front of the mike.

Up next, ‘The Next Indie Boy,’ which we envisioned as the single. Who was ‘the next indie boy”? It was not me. This was written from the point of view of a girl who I had recently broken up with and effectively says ‘There is always another musician hanging around…’. Jerk. But fuck, what a song!!! The dual vocal chorus, two differing melodies fighting for space made me excited every time I heard it. The dual guitars of Lys and Dave really kick this one down. Bass master Eric, who it must be said played his head off on every track, his high bass harmonies on the third verse resolve added to the overall stew of kick ass, fuck you songery. This was the song we had a lot of faith in and hand made a video for it to get it out there. The classic Replacements rip of just pointing a camera at a cassette deck and letting it play.

Then another CC concoction that was just too fun to play ‘Dizzy in My Hips Swinging.’ This was a straight-out Rock and Roll song that featured CC, Me and Lys all singing different parts in the chorus as well as some sweet harmonies in the verse between CC and Lys. Kerry kept a quick galloping beat on this held down by Eric’s wild bass lines. I think my favorite part of this song was the cello swoops that Julie dropped in the chorus which added to the real ‘whoosh’ feeling of the track.

Based on our history as a band, we had a pretty clear theme for ‘The Big Fame’ record which was the trial and triumphs of a local band trying to reach higher. Although that year had a different agenda than ours. Carmen’ father passed away in that period which as a loss for everyone. She started exploring this in her lyrics, to a chilling effect. Conversely, I was starting a still happy relationship so my songs were decidedly bedroom tunes. The song ‘House Drinks’ was what I consider the best song we ever wrote and performed. This was a rather intense song, multi-layered and with multiple parts. The words were some of Carmen’s best work which was a conversation about her father’s passing. If not for this line up having played this song for a year already, it may have been difficult to record. We had little issue with this under Tyler’s steady production hand. This was one I am still quite proud of.

The next track was our heavy track and named tribute to the dude behind the kit, Killer Kerry Miller. Granted, it’s not about him, but about the power of his name. ‘Miller, Don’t You Even Care?’ is a tale of a fictional Miller and CC trying to breach his heart. This was all guitars on deck, aggressive and triumphed by a genuinely wild guitar solo by Dave Hogan. I still remember the first time CC and I heard the guitar solo after Dave left the studio and we were wide eyed and open mouthed. And then fits of mad giggling because it was a monster.

Up next was our Cello standout track ‘Until Then.’ Beautiful, bordering on baroque, with some of Carmen’s most heartbreaking and truly present lyrics. Julie’s cello work on this was outstanding. I think my personal favorite part of this was when my harmony vocal came in on the chorus. Carmen and I had finetuned how to sing with each other by then so we did what we thought was right and let the recording catch it. The final arrangement of acoustic, cello, glockenspiel was truly lush.

‘Quiet (St Francis)’ was next and was the most direct reflection of her recent loss with a story about visiting in the St Francis hospital. The words were stark and almost shocking with the raw emotion she was working through. It’s not painful because CC was not dramatic. She is plain spoken and hurting out loud. Despite the heavy lyric, I paired this with one of my favorite American Pop Music tropes, the ‘And Then He Kissed Me’ riff. That ‘dumdeedumdum’ bit. I have always had an almost unreasonable attraction to that riff, likely started when I first heard it on a KISS record. Eric would lock in with me on the bass and Lys would kick in some key harmonies for key verse lines and the chorus. All of this gave the song a sort of Kinks vibe that was almost rollicking.

Up next we brought Dave Hogan back for his 12-string prowess on ‘Road To Joy.’ It is a very un-Grimm like song as it is overwhelmingly positive. OK, that’s an over statement but it wasn’t doom laden. Lys on her Mandola, Dave on the 12 string, this was a nice song. Honestly CC and Me never cared for it after we wrote it but it did record well.

‘Real Bad Voodoo’ was up next for some good and dark guitar wankery. Both Lys and Dave on electric. This song was originally on the ‘The Book Of Love’ EP and was one of those songs that The GG3 used to play a lot. It has a delightful sleaziness to it, with some great vocals and harmonies. This was the type of song that GG was born on, so it was great to actually put it on this record. The GG3 used to rock this song hard with Dave overjoyed to wrap in some lovely Raymond Chandler guitar lines. The effect of the whole band on it was different, better, though maybe a bit less energetic than the live or EP version.

My Pirate song ‘The Wreck Of My Bed‘ was up next and man, this was a hoot to play live. Even before we started working with drummers, the collected musicians had fantastic timing so my stompy foot would come across as a primal invitation. This song was based on a long weekend and the condition of my bed after said weekend. Lys played banjo, Dave played 12 string, Eric pulled off some lovely high tone bass work toward the third bit. The heroes for this song were definitely Kerry on drums and Julie on cello. What impressed me about Julie was we made no effort to make songs that should include cello and she balked at none of it, using her instrument like a third guitar. Her tone carries this song through to its thrilling conclusion. 

Another stunner, maybe slightly behind ‘House Drinks’ in my all-time favorites of The Grimm Generation songs was Carmen’s ‘The Eye Of Tranquility.’ When she presented this to me as a long form poem, I looked at it as an epic and wrote it accordingly. A very simple acoustic and vocal start as the other fall in behind and propel the song toward the second verse. The chorus was amazing and featured one of the highest vocals I ever put on record. This song meant a lot to us and we were mighty proud of it. It is the words on this one and CC’s delivery that sell this.

Up next was one of my older songs, one written in the time of the Folk Award days, ‘Bigger Than.’ I am pretty confident I wrote this about CC despite it being pre-Grimm. We often wrote about each other in subtle or obvious ways. This song was best served as an acoustic number, the less musicians the bigger the impact. This version sounds like pure Country and I hate it. Hate. It. It was likely my fault. This was initially going to be an acoustic track, no drums. When Kerry was doing drums, I suggested he try a drum track for this one too, which I don’t think he expected. As often happens when creating songs, when I hear the drums, I was excited because drums hold everything together. When we started laying the tracks on top of it, the whole thing went Country and though I should have cut it from the record, I did not. Love the song deeply, hate the recording.

And in conclusion, the song that would grow things out of its own soil, the swooping lap steel and locked in thud of the rhythm of ‘The Big Fame.’ This was the song that would bring about the Radio Show. I really like this one. It was one of those songs that I would listen to and not believe I wrote it as it was so odd, so perfect. Everyone played this song perfectly and we were pretty pleased with it. Had to be careful with this live: if it’s too fast, that was OK. If it was too slow, it would take a lunar year to get through.

Pop and CC were responsible for the cover which featured CC in 50s gear vacuuming in front of an abandoned movie theater that was still in Windsor. The image along with the title were perfect. It was about show biz, you know?

We did something unique when this came out and actually bought radio station ads in a big station in Hartford. They only aired very late at night as we did not have the finance, but it was pretty special tuning into a 50000-watt radio station and hearing those opening strains of The Big Fame.

Once we had Dave Hogan on a few tracks, we asked him to come sit in at a show. And when I saw Lys and He play together, that was when it was clear we missed something by not insisting he play more on the record.

With the addition of Dave this became what I think was our best line up, which was The Grimm Generation Show Band. Dave on 12 string acoustic and Les Paul, Lys on Fender Mustang, banjo, mandola, glockenspiel, vocals, Eric on bass and Kerry on drums, Julie on Cello, Carmen singing and Me playing acoustic and stomping right along. 

This band was put together to play The Big Fame Radio Show. And the sound was mountainous.

We continued to push for press for the Radio Show at the Radio Museum and we did attract quite a bit of attention. It was just a different idea and people were fascinated. CC and I did interviews, radio shows, pimped the concept online …. We were doing what we did the best, which was Promoting. Ideas for this just seemed to come up from the ground and it was our job to catch every single one.

And in time, on the precipice of our greatest triumphs, CC and Me in the House of Grimm were deteriorating.

In retrospect, I know what happened. It was all very practical. In the same way the band was showing up to carry us, CC was carrying me. I had lost my job and was drawing unemployment. Meanwhile I had a new girlfriend who was around the house of Grimm too much. And I was barely paying rent. 

And money was bad all around. There were fears she would lose the House of Grimm and that was something we took very seriously. To me, 53 Park Ave was not a house. It was my home. What I created down in my basement lair was the best work of my life. What CC and I created at that Kitchen Table should was simple magic. Should allow us to live comfortably. 

But we kept it together. For just a little while longer.

We released ‘The Big Fame’ record and perhaps with this poverty frame of mind did not make it available to stream on Spotify. At the time where musicians were just not sure how to work with streaming services. 

We wanted to sell records, at last. Exchange our songs for cash. It was that simple. We had paid our dues as did the folks who played with us. We accepted that the GG Leer Jet was a few years away but we wanted validation to not feel insane for pushing this for years. This weighed on CC more than me cause though we did not make a lot of money, I made more money in GG than anything else I did.

Looking at it from Carmen’s POV, it just hurt. She did not come up in bands and wasn’t sold this limo dream as a kid. She was frustrated that something that took so much from us, something we paid real money for occasion by occasion, could not produce any on its own.

At what point is the Rock and Roll Fantasy a fantasy? At every point, obviously. 

If your dream is to play bars and get laid, the stage is waiting. If your dream is to reach people with your songs, far worse things await.

We received some great reviews from friend around the Country including Our Man In Nashville, Joe. We met him through a musician friend and he started to talk about us in his Nashville home. Joe was a good guy and more, loved the Hell out of Grimm. He gave us a stellar review that we pimped like it would cure cancer.

Meanwhile our bread and butter, The Internet, was getting harder to navigate. All previously free websites started charging. Facebook was a collective din where no sound came through and none got out. We were there at that perfect point where anyone could pull off a new band when people were still engaged. Before all of these same people as well as ourselves, struck out for better sites and content.

Despite all of this, despite the disappointment of our record not getting listened to enough, we had a Radio Show to do. 

The Windsor Vintage Radio Museum was a box warehouse type building but what they had inside was mind-blowing. It was radios throughout the eras, the first ever televisions and collection of outdated and delightful electronics. We showed up dressed to kill and set up for the show.

Genuine Hero (look it up) and CC Boyfriend Matt provided the catering from his super popular Burger joint. The members of the Museum board did their job and though we were set up in the Museums itself, surrounded by all of these amazing nostalgia inducing electronics, it was standing room only. I am quite sure the Members of the Board did not know what they were in for.

And it began. Ginger acting as narrator stepped to the microphone and said ‘I am here to tell you a story… about Asher…..’ while the band crept in behind her with the repetitive noir riff of the title track from ‘The Big Fame’ … soft sensual…maybe a bit scary….before we kicked into raging ”Earthquake, Hurricane, Flood and You’ and we were hitting it with every step. The narration parts had Julie playing beautiful movements on her cello based on the theme melodies while Ginger continued the tale.

The parts where the song was quiet such as ‘Until Then,’ the crowd sat hushed, not a sound, not a rustle. The loud songs got raucous. It was perfect.

And after the show we had a Grimm Listening Party with the whole band over. It got wild and was an unforgettable night.

And that last with that particular line up. Kerry had decided to seek saner waters by moving out to Indiana and Ginger went with him. We were again without a drummer.

Good fortune swung our way this time with Julie suggesting an old friend of hers, Jack to try out. He’s a slightly unusual drummer in that he mainly played percussion with congas and djembes. We were always up for rhythmic experimentation, though currently we were in a riskier position as we had an established set in The Radio Show which would be our regular set for all the gigs upcoming. Even with the extended spoken word, it clocked in at 55 minutes.

Jack showed up with some percussion as well as a snare. He did not play with a bass drum which due to the size of the band at the time was OK. There were plenty of instruments bringing the bass kick.

I met Jack first at his house in Essex and we went up to the practice room. I had my sheets, my chords, my guitar and my recorder so I was set to go. Once we hit the spot, we did not pick up an instrument even once. We just chatted. We found we fought in some of the same ‘wars,’ specifically a gig about 20 years previous that we both played. 

The Hopi Fest gig was a well-meaning musical disaster which featured about 1200 bands. My band The Great Upsetters (featuring Dave Hogan) was supposed to play at 5. And then 7. Then 9.

Around 10 we dropped the acid.

Then 11. 

It was about midnight when we took the stage. No one wanted us to play. The gig was long over and wasn’t particularly successful at any point. We demanded to take the stage, demanded to play our show, despite the only people remaining were crew folk who did not like us even a bit.

We played, loud. It wasn’t good, everyone was way too far gone within the group and absolutely hateful outside the group.

I told the tale to Jack that first non-practice and he said ‘I was there. I was in the band right before you. I will always remember watching you guys take the stage and thinking ‘What the fuck is going on with these guys?’ I related this story to Dave Hogan who was equally amused.

Jack had spent his time on the CT Shoreline with his own series of bands. He was a Legend in that area, not only known for his singing and time keeping, but also, he was funny. Like real funny.

I liked him immediately and hoped he could drum.

We gathered the whole 7-member Show Band together at The Grimm House with Jack and his weird set up. After Ginger split, Carmen took over the reins of becoming the Narrator of the story, trying on a collection of Southern accents because that was what she heard it as. And she was right.

The set began, again with a soundscape based on the title tracks and the opening of the story. And then we were off, the entire set straight through, no breaks. Jack did phenomenal. His odd kit was, in review, perfect for a band of this size. He would keep the time firm and it was never splashy. Just straight down the line, even throwing in some kicky dance beats that were never in the songs before. It worked brilliantly.

And we went back on the road playing The Big Fame Radio Show every following gig. The more we worked it, the tighter, the more dramatic it became. Now having both Lys and Dave playing guitar brought a real driving sense to the set. Jack picked up on cues and focused on certain moments, versus beats. Everyone was playing like this was a live musical drama, which it was.

We played a lot of gigs in this line up, but two remain in perfect focus for completely different reasons.

A friend and Grimm booster from Facebook were involved in an arts festival held in Bridgeport at the historical McLevy Hall. It was an interesting event. Multiple floors on the building and each room had a different type of creation happening. Drum circles, costuming, every conceivable type of visual and video art (Including on the outside face of the building).

This was also a sort of homecoming for me because though we had played down Bridgeport some, not as much as we played everywhere else. I did see some old friends and walking around with the Big Band made me feel like a boss.

We were playing in one of the upper rooms and while we were setting up there was a tither in the crowd. Apparently, Chris and Tina, rhythm section for the Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club were in attendance. We were starstruck. And they were sitting in our audience waiting on a show. 

Which we gave them in spades. Maybe the best performance of the Grimm Generation Show Band ever.

Afterwards Chris and Tina were effusive with praise for the Radio Show set. Tina in particular mentioned she was transfixed. The band was all wide smiles and jittery happiness. 

I recall this night through a gauzy inner filter that indicated ‘remember this.’

The other gig was equally dramatic but all off stage. This was the final Cabaret show in New London for the Grimm Generation. At which point the wheels came off the cart.

It started badly. Way before we even got near New London. It was snowing like mad as Carmen, Pop and I made our way down south. I was driving and I am not a good snow driver. And that trip was a white-knuckle ride all down Rt 2 which on its best day is an underdeveloped highway. I remember keeping the car on the road between the two white lines till they disappeared completely. I remember the stone silence in the car because both CC and Pop were well aware of my distaste for winter driving. By the time we hit the gig I was a single raw nerve and was not being particularly pleasant to anyone.

We had 2, 20-minute sets after a 2-hour slippery nightmare to get there. That of course is not unusual. We rearranged our set, dropping the slower, quieter numbers and amping up all the fast songs. Everybody was supposed to play a 20-minute set, but other bands were being loose with their time, under the impression we were all here for a good time. Not an unreasonable expectation.

It was driving us crazy. We played our first set in the overcrowded underground venue and we did play well. We were supposed to come up an hour later which was delayed and delayed again. 

I approached the lovely lady organizing this event, a lady who was responsible for booking us again and again in a number of super cool shows, including all three Cabaret performances. I was not pleasant. She did not deserve it either.

Another band would step up and play a 40-minute set. Magic acts came up and played a 40-minute set. Improv comics, a ventriloquist, Burlesque girls all came up for their 40 minutes while I turned red in my seat. Carmen and I were shooting looks at each other like a murder was a ‘coming.

What happened when we took the stage is one of my favorite Grimm Generation memories. We were very professional and if someone wanted a 20-minute set, that’s what they got. We were Teutonic in our timing.

We step to the stage, all rage and madness. Carmen grabbed the mike and said ‘THIS is what a 20-minute set sounds like….’ And BOOM! We played with all of the rage, all of the disappointment, years of regrets, a questionable future could summon. We were tight and hot and incredible. 

I was never prouder. It was the most punk thing I had ever seen, ever been a part of. We roared and it was not posing.  For all the artifice that GG played with, all of the humor, all of the pulp, we meant what we did, what we played, what we sang. These songs were pulled from us and we refracted them into Pop music so a deeper amount of people would hear what we feel.

This was the goal, always. It was not to ‘get chicks.’ It was not for the miniature amounts of cash. We had something to say and we would sing it if you will take it better.

That Monday we got the note from Lys. Thank you for the experiences but I’m going to have to leave GG and dedicate more time to my own bad. This quickly followed with Eric saying he needs to quit GG so he can start a band with Lys.

I think the last Cabaret showed them sides of us they did not want to see again. I could not and did not blame them. They stuck with us for a few years and my gratitude at that, despite no real money, despite consistent long car rides for practice, they kept coming.

I had the conversation again with CC: These are not friends. These are musicians. They will come around right up until they have a better offer.

Soon afterward we received an offer that I had wanted since we wrote the Radio Show. A full hour performance on WPKN which was the Bridgeport college station that I, we, listened to for years. It was finally the opportunity to put the Radio show on the radio. And everyone, Lys and Eric specifically, came back for one more performance.

We gathered at WPKN on a sunny Sunday morning, not dressed for a crowd. Performing in regular clothes felt strange. We all took our seats and Dave the DJ introduced us and the piece. I remember the sun shining through the high windows looking at everyone surrounding me focused on the work. I felt bliss. Grateful. Proud.

We played beautifully. And of course, the recording never came. Technical difficulties. The Gods who held us in favor clearly turned away.

The House of Grimm was in turmoil completely aside from the music. The girl who never left my room eventually moved and invited me along. Since I was barely paying rent and relations between CC and me were getting icy, I went. Three months later that relationship went to Hell and having nowhere to go, I asked CC if I could have my space back.

And she rescued me. She let me talk for hours as the breakup did finally fuck me up. She was my rock, in addition to her mate and future husband Matt. They would come down every night and we established a type of club, smoking friendly. We laughed for hours for a year or two. I was home again.

And things end as they began. 

With all of our hard work over the year, we actually placed for the Best Indie Band in Hartford and were invited to the red-carpet ceremony. It was unexpected as we did not even submit ourselves for review. Everybody dressed Oscars appropriate and we gathered at the Bushnell in Hartford with the rest of the CT Arts and Music scene. We saw some old friends and saw some old bands we played with. Everybody dressed to accept rewards. It was surreal and pretty sweet. 

Due to the being nominated (we did not win as a band of teens had all of their friends stuff the Ballot boxes. I was OK with that because if I had friends, I would have done the same exact thing) we received a gig, which would be the Last performance of The Grimm Generation and our Radio Show. We had the full show band back with one exception: Eric on bass had moved on to other pastures so we brought in a ringer for the bass, a real cool and skilled gentleman named Dave.

The gig was at Arch Street which was one of the livelier venues in Hartford that still featured original music. On this night, it was a morgue. This all brought back clearly what started this: me pacing wildly outside a gig on New Year’s Day when I won the Harford Folk Artist. Sadness and disappointment.

It had to end that way. It was too good of an ending not to.

Epilogue.

I had always said, to anyone who would listen, that the best conceived story ever written would be about a band that tried to make it and failed. These stories have everything: love, drama, craft, disappointment, moments of triumph, concepts of belief, betrayals, heroes and villains, addictions, usually a touch of true crime, death and life. There is something about viewing the world as a member of a band that makes you feel you have soldiers standing beside you, angels looking over you and a steep decline ahead. Which is true in any team activity. 

Carmen and I remain close but we do not communicate that often now.  During the course of about 4 years we talked enough for a dozen years. Now that we had no child to shepherd (GG was the errant troubled child), life started away from each other.

CC and Matt married and I sang GG at their wedding. She no longer sings but has started writing again in earnest.

After GG I decided to do a solo album ‘The Zen Of Losing’ based on that leveling break up I experienced and asked Julie to help me out with her Cello. We produced a record together with assist by old friends Adam (who recorded and played just about everything) and of course, Dave Hogan.

Working so close with Julie we became very close and then fell in love hard. We started a band with Jack and played that record. Coming to know Julie, as she truly was, it made me wonder how many other things I missed during that period. I was obsessed with GG thinking that was the only way to get it done.

Lys put out her solo record (with Dave Hogan contributing) and started the Lys Guillorn Band with Eric. 

We came together one last time without instruments at Dave Hogan’s Funeral. Everyone was very sweet to me during that period as she knew what Dave meant to me.

______________________________________________________________________

I want to thank you all who have reached out to me during this epic tale. 

I apologize to those whose names are not included. 

I apologize for names mentioned in questionable ways. 

The Kitchen Table looms large in my Heart. Still. It is, to me, a perfect place in space in time.

Thank you, CC. It was a hell of a ride.

What’s Your Story?

So, cracking open the Nu Music Marketing 2020 Bible (Do not look for this. It doesn’t exist.) it looks like we are up to the Bio section. Prove your worth in under 300 words.

Using words. Stupid words.

I like words as anyone who happened to read this before will know. Not necessarily correctly spelled words. No words that have never existed before I forced them into some public dialog. Words are flexible and fun. Are they entertaining? Yes. Can they describe the total picture? Perhaps not.

When considering what I wanted to say about myself and CiC, I pictured creating a hieroglyphic bio, something with dogs and coffee and sunrises and stars and more coffee. I like coffee. Something that would bring the reader into my fractured world of…words. Without words.

Have you noticed if you say the word ‘words’ over and over and over again, it loses meaning? It is a sound, but not really a word. This is after repeated applications.

Anyway…. words (see?). The practical plan for Bio writing is simple:

  1. List your accomplishments (actual not imaginary …. Though it’s only words, right? So, who cares? The Music Business cares, that’s who! Fly right!)
  2. Describe your sound (though its accurate, I don’t think my genre tag of ‘Sounds like two robots f*cking’ will please the Overlords of The Music Business)
  3. Always written in third person. (I prefer 5th Person because from a fifth person perspective, one starts to “feel” the system in a different way, recognizing that one’s own perspective on and in the Anthropocene is merely a perspective, which itself is a perspective, which in turn is a perspective. Am ’I Right?’
  4. List 2 or three influences (OK, so I’m opting for Poverty, Validation and The Mountain Goats)
  5. Always list what is happening RIGHT NOW!! NOW!!! (I am endlessly pushing a stone up a hill for eternity. Forecast for tomorrow: the same damned day)
  6. List any Music Business contact you have. (I know Elvis Costello. Well I saw Elvis Costello. From a stage. Does that count?)
  7. Be Engaging! (Fu* k Off!)

So I balance all of this sage advice with the fact that …well…words. Ya know? You don’t? Let me explain…

Blah blah…. blah blah blah blah blah blahblah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah…blah…blah blah.

You see? Sure you do.

So before I write a real Bio for the Music Business I wanted to try one here:

Cursive is Code, or CiC for short is a new group featuring singer / songwriter Jason P Krug (Award Winning Mountain Climbing Professional Bowler who is three inches taller than his listed height) and Julie Kay (sweetest patch of grass on the Earth and a noted Baker / liberal nutjob).

Together and with their previous band The Grimm Generation they have knocked out Muhammad Ali, swam the English Channel, tamed a wild beast with a song…and some drugs…Lots of drugs.

The Cursive is Code sound has been described as ‘Who?’

The sound is based on their love of Sammy Davis Jr (early work), Ministry and that one song from that one move…what is that song…dammit….

Currently CiC is writing their bio.

My Bliss Keeps A Beat

This past Saturday was like most in the Summer of 2020, this Covid Summer: hot and humid, Saturday Morning roads a buzzing with trailers and boats, nothing to do anywhere. So we have taken to long rides, good coffee and a playlist that gets created Saturday Morning.

I am always in charge of the Playlist, but serve up a helping of what makes my Girl tap her foot. Oddly more often Boy Rock like Janes, Rage, Soundgarden. She is a girl too. Despite this.

It is a team effort.

My own Saturday selection tend to run the gamut of British Glam and of course, some Goats. And a selection of what came out new that week, whatever it may be.

When you meet someone that you are supposed to meet, like in a real and lasting sense, you notice that as time goes by you tend to pick up on the musical history of your mate. Because everyone wants to hear something that makes them happy, makes them shake, even makes them sad.

It is personal. But if you spend enough time with someone, you find yourself being drawn into those same reactions.

And one of those reaction, which can not be underestimated, calculated, figured is joy.

So this past Saturday I set up my list and included some LCD Soundsystem. Julie and Carmen tuned me on to them when I still assumed that they were something I would not care for. And yes, assumed they were British.

LCD is outside of any style of music that I have taken on. Its dance music, with a real working brain…but the dance music aspect I could not wrap my mind around. It was like a buzzing all around me: a quick song caught in the kitchen, a song that popped up on Sirius….and when I would hear it, the reaction was the same: WTF Is that? (the only other band I had this same reaction too was TuneYards. Whenever something would pop up that I loved and was scared by, it was always TuneYards.)

So I downloaded the LCD Soundsystem final show, the MSG show that I would NOW kill a man to see. At the time I was unfortunately blissfully unaware.

But Julie was there. She was there and had the still pefect T Shirt to prove it. She was there.

So tripping our way through the Niantic area a song came on and she turned it up loud. Real Loud. The car shook. And the song began….

It was the live version of ‘North American Scum’ with additional assistance of Arcade Fire screaming along to the chorus. It was enthralling. Incredible. The road washed out around me as I just let go and whooped along.

It was pure joy of music too loud. It was the actual Bliss of brilliant song and brilliant band, at the tip top of their absolute magic and powers.

It shook me with how beautiful life is. How lucky I am to hear this song on this day. The genuine thrill of being genuinely scared by music.

The windows came down and Julie drove faster and faster. The world around seemed to slow. There was nothing but Julie and Me taking off for unknown galaxies in a little blue rocket.

I remembered what I should remember every day: This is what we get. Guard your bliss with more passion than you guard your money.

And turn it up. Loud.

A Curmudgeon’s Guide to The Apocalypse

Hello Beautiful. Yes, you. Hi ya doing, Sweetness? Since everyone is either pairing up or bachelor’ng up till the storm passes, I assume we can be a bit more…intimate. Right? Yes? Ja?

Ja.

But maybe a bit of foreplay? Aww shucks, for you Kitten, anything. I know you can’t get enough of my blathering on like my opinion matters to anyone, so…this is for you, Hot Stuff:

I am a man before my time. I am version 5 of the model (of Man). I see the future and is the future.

I am The Omega Man. And guess what? So are you.

I was Social Distancing before it was all the rage.

Do you think I did NOT want to come to your gig / wedding / rescue? No, Sugar, I was training. For this.

Do you think it is easy walking around this brain with all of there genius thoughts and not near enough people to inflict them on? I had to wait.

It was a dream I had (that’s a lie; I don’t dream) that there would come a time when the whole world would see the appeal of the Curmudgeon. And now they line up at my door. Which I will never, ever open.

The very concept I hear tell of is how people need social interaction and are willing to risk their health to get it. The idea that restaurants and bars and casinos will close due to virus.

Yes, we are in the first 20 minutes of every zombie movie ever.

So since I’m all skilled and such and doing the Solitary thing, I offer some advice to those over grown with Social Engagements:

  • The Internet. The Internet gives madness and takes away sanity. Plus cat pix. But consider this: if you hear a guy in the park screaming about the coming Apocalypse, I don’t think you would take that as a viable news source. Now consider if you don’t see the park, don’t see the stool he stands on. Is he more viable? Now give him a Twitter. My point is people spread disinformation. Its not our fault, it’s fun! Do it! Do it now! The Earth is flat, Bigfoot exists, Wheeee!
  • Activities. What we rarely get is a place where the World stops and we have the chance to try something we never have. Like meditation or meth. What we have hear is a global pause button engaged. So what have you always wanted to do? You have a few weeks, maybe months, so turn off the TV and Make It Motherfucking So.
  • Go outside. Listen…I know. Outside is scary. But they have cool stuff out there. Sun (occasionally). Trees (a lot of those bastards). Grass (not yet). Consider this a time slip. You have gone back in time 200 years…or forward 1200…either way, no one is around. Skinny dip? Yes. Skinny BBQ? Yes. Skinny ride home? Sure.
  • Think Big. As noted, the World doesn’t stop for us very often. But here we are. So what new windmill will you be taking on? This is a freaky time. Aim high. But stay low.

Lets make the most of this Apocalypse. Yes, we will one day look back at this and think ‘What a time…’

…. or we won’t, whatever. Regardless…the Future Goes This Way ————>

The Nu Spiritualism: Indie Music Marketing

The thought came to mind while watching the apple music commercial. Clarity. I am being marketed too as a creative artist with something to say, even in this glut of like minded folks.

Like you. And you.

And why shouldn’t I be marketed too? I spend money (or consider at least ) on books and websites to connect me to the largest audience possible to hear my songs.

And I realize that my decision making on where to put myself virtually is knitted together texts of faith and angle, something that gives a small advantage. Cause it’s the wild west out there. No one has a clue and the maze reconfigures monthly.

And it brings me to the spiritualist movement of the late 1800s all of knocking tables and ectoplasm. People went crazy for trying to reach across the veil and commune with the dead. And for every request, new technologies of bad science and melodrama were devised to refine ones access to the beyond.

I won’t be so cynical as to use the idea 9f snake oil salesmen. I do believe every new online music platform or least starts with real belief. It’s simply were cynical creatures. When some one sees a need, someone else needs profit from it.

Consider how we got here. The desire to share music among friends via Napster. In it’s design, it wasn’t created to upset the apple cart. It just did.

So pick your poison: seance or EPK? Spirit photos or the dream of going viral on YouTube? Tarot cards or download cards? Ancient texts or Twitter?

Whatever your choices, pack an extra thing in your ole’ kit bag: Belief.

Belief confounds the Improbable.

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The Zen Menu – The JK’s at Klekolo World Coffee

I’ve made much hulla and some baloo about my love and appreciation of Klekolo World Coffee (https://jasonpkrug.com/2015/03/26/when-klekolo-was-the-center-of-the-universe-2/), the home of my spiritual rebirth and purveyors of fine bean. So it seems only right that one of our rare gigs (Julie Kay and Myself, of course) is at this very place. And yes , on this very day.

And we’re bringing something special tonight. A taste of a harvest meal upcoming.

Since The Grimm Generation went on super secret hiatus, I started crafting songs about loss. Conceptual. Very real. And a record was born. Still cooking with our top scientists working on it (Hi Adam!). So what we have here is a preview of whats to come. Played live in one set. Acoustic voice and stompy foot. Cello sensuality in pluck and box. Lyric driven, image laden. We’re coming from and for the heart.

So as a delectable aperitif, the set, as it will be played tonight at 7:00 PM at Klekolo World Coffee, Court St in the grand old dame of Middletown.

For your consideration…

‘Push Play’ – ‘…whats so special about you?’
‘Twin Twisters’ – ‘…As good an epitath as any for us…’
‘Hidden Lake Smells Like Gunpowder’ – ‘There’s not enough medicine to make me feel. And EVERYTHING is medicine…’
‘Determined To Fail’ – ‘…past the cracked cross of the Evangelical warehouse’
‘Last Leaves To Fall’ – ‘… These nights, they expire. All hope. All desire…’
‘Your Body Betrays You’ – ‘… have I got your attention?’
‘Lush’ – ‘… As we wind together like vines, we bear fruit in this unbearable heat…’
‘Last Days Of Rome’ – ‘… And we squandered what we were given. It wasn’t healthy, but it was Home…’
‘Ring It Out’ – ‘I’m a bad liar. I won’t hide it. You fill me up and I get drunk with it…’
‘Believe In Me’ – ‘astral are just pricks in the dark’
‘Nu Constellations’ – ‘… aren’t we done with all the gravity of old reputations?’
‘Cut Down The Moon’ – ‘…a war was fought. No one knew….’
‘Outloud’ – ‘If you want to love me, you can love me.’
‘The Boy King’ – ‘the allure of the utter wreck, The Boy King takes another sip…’
‘Saving Grace’ – ‘…It’s intimate. But a different kind…’
‘I’ve Never Been Here Before’ – ‘I kicked some friends when they were down. I kicked up dust till I cracked the ground’
‘The End Of Mystery’ – ‘… Regards unopened, ghosts in the wire. The songs stay unwritten, nasty looks from the choir…’

And plus, paying respects to where we came from…

‘Bigger Than’ (The Grimm Generation) – ‘All my sad songs are about you now.’
‘St Joan (Of Rt 495)’ – ‘Cops are scary’

Please join us for a live viewing of the upcoming album ‘The Zen Of Losing’ as performed by Jason P. Krug (vocals, guitar) and Julie Kay (cello) at Klekolo World Coffee, Court St in Middletown, 7:00 pm sharp.

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Brush Your Death 100 Times A Day

After a brief period of death and resurrection (I should note that I neither died nor was resurrected. I do tend to be dramatic ) I have come out the other side of this mortality wormhole with knowledge. Well….not knowledge. ….let’s call them paranoia based lessons to live by. Or die by. Whatevs.

1) when we get sick, we go into Safe Mode. All higher functions miss the Start menu and you lose all ability to color your world or place your self in the frame. It’s hard to consider the Great American Novel when your your thoughts go into rogue survival mode. It’s ok.

2) freedom of choice drives everybody crazy…..to paraphrase X. And without the ability to appropriately focus on my entertainment choices, I let go and listened to satellite radio. That’s my version of giving up. And though I understand the appeal of new music discovery, I found the content was too light, too repetitive. It was good for my distracted state, but what does that say? Is the fear that if we get overly engaged we will drive into the ocean over and over?

3) life is precious. But precious things are by their nature dull. Live agressive.

4) if you survive, show off. Go public. Maybe plan a date to show off how alive you are with a dear cello playing friend. (Klekolo, August 18th @ 7:00 pm)

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Your Parents Did It To Aerosmith

…And of course that makes sense, now. Here in the future (where you and I will spend the rest of our lives…). Cause look at them. Your parents, I mean.

Older and out of touch. With a ton of stories you will never hear from their lips. Good ones. Maybe a bit too much eye liner to combat the clock. Maybe Dad releases a country themed single to capture the market that he never knew existed till some Desmond Child’ish creation said ‘Hey Dad! Cornpone is the new black!’.

You listen to this decades Aerosmith and consider your folks and think ‘sure. I can see that. My parents are lame. Of course they would copulate to soundtrack music’.

And sometimes it takes a dude on a coffee buzz to adopt the Lester Bangs style of ‘wise’nd old coot’ to tell you the truth. And it may make you a bit uncomfortable hearing it. But that’s my job ….. no, jobs pay something….my calling. Yeah.

Here’s the truth: Aerosmith was once the coolest band on the planet. And your mom ran around like a tramp. And your dad followed her like a dog. God Bless America.

It’s is easy to forget….no…it is IMPOSSIBLE to remember how great 70’s Azimuth was. Not simply as ‘The USA’s Rolling Stones’ but the real skill, the real composition of a great Rock and Roll band, in every form. Live, studio, drug fueled exploits, models, childish inter-band turmoil (cause to be a Rock Star is to adopt teen hood as a lifestyle. And teens is dumb).

(Except you. Your special).

They wrote big hits, even then. ‘Dream On’ right out of the gate. ‘Mama Kin’ on that same debut record. But they really got interesting with their sophomore ‘Get Your Wings’. I suggest you go to the library (just kidding, kid)….I mean hit YouTube and find it and listen all the way down from tip to tail.

What you will note is that in the space of 2 records, they went from the blues based Boston band done good to something that started a whole new page in the Book Of Rock and Roll. ‘Lord Of The Thighs’ is page 1. I always wondered if this was Steven’s lil’ jab at the darker more Sabbath’y band of the era with that title, substituting ‘Your Thighs’ for ‘Of This World’. Alas, we will never know since Steven has clearly gone mad with syphilis and the drugs to treat syphilis (I’d like to direct the court attention to exhibit A, American Idol’…).

Aerosmith was firing on all cylinders at this point and continued with ‘Toys In The Attic’ and ‘Rocks’ and, in my opinion, deserve every blood red penny they make and throw at their butlers now based on this work.

The key to Aerosmith to me personally was always Steven Tyler and his incredible, indecipherable, single entendre lyrics and delivery of them. Tongue twisting, brilliant use of phrasing and rhyme. Really, the very first white rapper.

And his focus, which was always sex, girls, sex with girls, drugged sex with girls, sex with druggy girls. He elevated what could be considered a marginal (though fun sounding) life into real degenerate poetry. And had the voice, the linguist genius to wrap these images into unconscious on the beat jags that you find yourself singing at the most inappropriate times.

And why? Because they were young and did it like they wanted.

Like your parents. Who did it standing up. Listening to ‘Seasons Of Whither’.

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See The Boss Pedal, Be The Boss Pedal: An Argument For Digital Effects In Normal Conversation

As a clear sign that I have been driven mad, I have permanently effected the affects of this particular medulla oblogata with my recording within Dante’s digital pit, I have come to the realization that digital effects are not just for music.

Furthermore, I need to make a miracle machine (which is tricky as the dog ate my engineering degree) that puts digital effects where they belong: conversations. This may require we all walk around with permanent earphones on to get the effect (big and fat), but what are words worth? They are worthless unless you can EQ them to a listenable form and then blast them through BIG reverbs.

Effects will be the new punctuation. They will say. When I create the machine. I will be hailed as yet another distraction (like iphones and Instagram and insulin) that is keeping us from becoming the species we should be, in our most perfect and docile form.

Dull. Dullllllll. Im So Bored with your plain, simply heard speeches. Do me a favor…ask me that in Flanger. Phase me, baby.

Consider how it can really emphasize the conversations you are already having?

Don’t you feel cheated when you are angry and yell at someone and it simply dissipates? Try that with a big hall reverb. Now THATS angry and impossible to ignore.

What about ordinary dull conversations with people in the grocery line? Slip in some Digital Delay…and slowly build it, so your words leave your mouth and are suddenly bouncing, bouncing everywhere, every direction, every corner and crevice of the subconcious till theres no option for anyone but to turn away and look at the Star or People Magazine.

Late night and early morning? Need to talk to people but your too wasted to form words? Compression. Everything you say will have more impact, even if that statement is ‘I’m sorry I dropped the ball on the Perkins account.’. Your manager can only admire your honesty, forthrightness and deep sonorous tones. And this is how you get a promotion.

Tryin to explain away a prior bad act? Speak clearly through a Heavy Metal distortion. Raise the gain. Speak slowly and stare directly into their eyes and watch as they get confused, a little sad and go away.

Need a lil pickup in the bedroom? Ladies love a good Wahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, brother. Get all Issac Hayes and shit and lay it down.

My point being that we short change ourselves in terms of appropriate dramatics. Sometimes it takes a bit o’ science.

The REAL point being this record is killing me.

(dictated but not read in Vibrato)

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How Deep Purple Brought Me To Jesus

I have the image clear: about 7 years old in my older sister bedroom, her and her friends laughing and I’m twisting the long coil of the soup can style fat headphones (the fatter, the better. …I still stand by this, ear buds can’t hang …) and laying on the floor leafing through the LP covers as the vinyl discs get listened to and piled on top of the speaker, long dried wax and incense dust in a permanent drip on the space age black plastic stereo cover.

And though I know there was more, the art, the impossible comic book of album covers, of 4 records sticks in my head:

Black Sabbath ‘Volume 4’, Elton John ‘Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy ‘, Chicago….the chocolate bar covered one and Deep Purple ‘Made In Japan’.

Being 7 or so, the ‘Made In Japan’ cover fascinated me…..and in retrospect, maybe cause it’s the only of these records to show the band in photo. So you can imagine Highway Stars and Space Truckers and examine the front cover action shot and think ‘Yup. That’s what someone who drives a truck on space looks like.

What I did not know at the time was the Deep Purple I was listening too was as close to a true team of comic heroes Rock music would ever produce. And what they did would inform and inspire what I did for the rest of my life.

Because Deep Purple was unique and always would be. They were that Avengers style super team where each member was a fifth of the power, and without these 5 you have….oh I dunno. …Vanilla Fudge. Every member was necessary …. not the instrument they played…..them playing it.

And of course these 5 dudes created a song that went far beyond their generation, far beyond their own life span as a band….and surely as corporal beings. You know the tune. ‘Duh Dunh Dunhhhhh, Duh Dunh Dunh Dunhhhhhh….’ etc.

THE riff of Rock written by bass player Roger Glover, who wrote others. He was perhaps the most restrained, most common in appearance. …and there lied his mutant ability to produce timeless riffs.

Ian Paige was always a cult figure, a deeper Neal Pearl style worship amongst those who know. This was beat (in perfect paradiddle) into my head by my old friend Vic who was so stupidly talented, he learned these Paice driven monsters beat for beat. And to simply watch him play with (big and fat) headphones on was a revelation to me if what drums REALLY did if you watched someone who knew how to play them proper. Ian’s ability was to make it look easy and simultaneously impossible.

Jon Lord. He was the heart if this sound. This was not simple worship of Hammond B3. It was using it as a tool, and pushing the good taste and warm whirly tones into an over driven groans and wails and the low rumble of (big and fat) American automobiles. He was the strong one, the honorable one, the mad scientist who ain’t that mad.

And the difficult one, the dangerous unpredictable one. The one who played with black magic and risked his soul within the complexity of each incredible solo. And the one who started me on my vague obsession with megalomania. Mr Ritchie Blackmore. He was Dr Strange with a stratocaster.

And on vocals and bongo, Jesus Christ.

Ok. Ian Gillan was not actually Jesus Christ. But he did play him on the stage. And through this, at a later age than church would prefer, I came to know The Passion Of The Christ.

It’s hero worship. When your a fan. …a real fan….you track down where your hero’s come from. And in this fashion, me and my friends came to know Jesus Christ Superstar. And despite being Sabbath obsessed darklings, we came to know every word. Every plea, every plot of the Christ story. And to this day, this is where my true understanding of Christ came from.

But one doesn’t get defined by being Jesus. ….Jesus aside. Ian Gillan was one of the best singers in and out of Rock. And looked damned good doing it.

There is no band that ever sounded like Deep Purple. And there will never be again.

Jon Lord left this plane for farther shores. And I think he is still out there, awaiting the call to save us.

SAVE US.

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