The Eccentric JpK and The Spring Of Zen

By means of update on your author, I’ll say this: I was a rambling eccentric with a record coming out some season. Now I’m a rambling eccentric with a record coming out in weeks.

 

 Oh, and I’m an eccentric apparently.
It was mentioned by a dear friend. Spoken as a foregone conclusion so I knew it was true. And as I considered a response, a retort, a damning of this accusation, a how-dare-you style big over response (which i excel at cause I’m an eccentric), I found I had nothing. Like my brain spoke up and said ‘got a point…’.

ec·cen·tric

ikˈsentrik/

adjective

  1. 1. (of a person or their behavior) unconventional and slightly strange.

Well….OK. I would say ‘particular’. But how does one know when they rode off the road of colorful and are listening to the rumble strip of the unknown. Being eccentric in some way feels likes its a gateway phrase. You’re not right, but your not particularly dangerous. How does one know?

A dear friend mentions it. Right. With that conclusion-y tone.

Anyway. It’s time. Welcome to the Spring Of Zen. Everything over the course of this past year and change….from the end of Grimm to the beginning of my personal walkabout….from the opening lines of the new record to the final mastering… it all leads to this spring. Where we take my very soul and see what it’s worth on the market. I’m ready.

A soul gets cocky if you don’t threaten to sell it every once in a while.

These are the events that bring us here:
  • I fell in Love and I got my heart broke. Particularly galling since I am such and expert on the framing and phrasing of Love. Or thought I was. Until.
  • My band fell apart. OK, self imploded. CC is a nightmare.
  • Which was timely since the material I was now writing was deeper and personal than anything I’ve done. And I knew I had to sing them.
  • And started working with the wind beneath my black beating wings, Julie Kay, Cello.

And this was where it got deep. When I brought these songs out and we played them in a duo style, a sound came from it that was hushed and powerful, but equally raucous.

My expectation….following the traditional wisdom of art and creation and marketing of such things…was to create a vaguely middle of the road type record, something that takes songs over my career and records in their most sell-able state. Bass and drums and guest spots.

 

But first….Julie Kay and Me, and it changed all my directions. The dynamic between the plucked cello and acoustic, between the lyric and the weighty space a duo arrangement leaves took on an almost ‘Astral Weeks’ intimacy. And I’m all about that freaking record.

 

The fact is….in my personal listening tastes….little I listen to is that traditional. I like weird singers with brill lyrics and POV’s that take thought. I Only Listen To The Mountain Goats. (Not true, but not far from false). So why make a middle of the road record when I wouldn’t buy one?

 

Now back to bullet point. I’m a formatting nightmare.

  • My goal was to record this growing record as a concept record exploring loss, in all 31 flavors. It was therapy to start with, but gained mass as it grew. It was a narrative, my story about The Girl, but the songs cut deeper and revealed things I never said out loud. And it became clear to me that what I was creating wasn’t simply a unit to shift. It was a first aid kit for the self obsessed at times of heartbreak. And I know I’m not the only one.
  • So I decided to cash in a Christmas bonus on a 32 track digital and write my Great American Novel. I knew the sound I was chasing.
  • But I also have talented friends. I asked, cajoled, and requested ex Citizen Spy picker Adam Hagymasi to have us record the duo arrangement for half the record and let him add whatever he thinks is appropriate in his private studio. And he did, in spades. He created something beautiful and engaging and that rocks too. I’m excited, too excited, to share that.
  • And to keep it true and faithful, I brought Dave Hogan in to add some vocals and guitars. He came ready to play. The effect of the ebow, balanced against the cello, makes a sound that makes me spastic with bliss.

Four players. 16 songs. 18 months. I’m not convinced the 4 of us have ever been in the same room before.

 

 So Welcome To The Spring Of Zen.  Eccentric approved. The new record ‘The Zen Of Losing’ by Jason P. Krug will be out by April 1st.

My next blog will be an exploration of a song on the record, where it came from, or just an anecdote related. It’s a process for me, a personal organization,  that I will share publicly. To personally remind me how I got here. And that’s ‘The Girl’.

 

 The Future Goes This Way —————>

Join Me.

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The Eccentric JpK and The Spring Of Zen

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

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)

BOSS-Pedal-Wall

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

Crap Rises To The Top: News Edition

Are you an idiot? Am I? How about that dude? Is he?

It starts as an entertainment and creases its way into the general culture. It corrupts the culture and bleeds into mechanics of the machine, money and politics. And someone brings a camera and exposes it….and markets this discovery to the culture who allowed it, and we eat it up with a spoon.

All the while, we think we’re being ironic. But I think we just may be idiots. Cause we created Donald Trump…or allowed him to be created. That’s on our dime.

Let’s start here: News. We have a bunch of 24/7 news services, each with their own agenda, their own voices that multiply to true rabble. And despite the fact that it’s a big ole’ World, and their can be enough news to fill these spaces, that’s not what we get. We get one hour of news reported 24 times. And to fill that time, analysis by the endless parade of authors who just released unreadable (read? Like the color?) books on point of these superfluous non stories.

I have a news ticker at my job. Weather, ads, news ticker. A few weeks ago, this was featured:
‘Gwyneth Paltrow missed the recent Award Show to spend time with her daughter Apple’.
wtf. This is barely a factoid, and of no interest to anyone but her publicist and child. And I think the child is to young to read it, the publicist to far from CT to see it. So,….if this for me? Should I call her and thank her? Maybe send fruit?

 

As a brainwashing technique, a previous job always played CNBC, which if financial news. And what I noticed was that they turned the Stock Market news, traditionally rather dry…and deadly, if its bad news…and turned in into ESPN. Colorful loud hosts, big graphics, lots of colors and feigned excitement. Which says a few things:

1) Financial news is sports for people to shallow and bright for sports.

2) Not a lot of woman are watching.

Despite the fact that what they report genuinely effects us, even if in a years time (a single year are is new decade, haven’t ya heard?), they spoon feed us like Saturday Morning sugar cereal commercials feed Saturday Morning kids.

And let us all remember Brian Williams, who has been tore down based on lying on his resume. How can lying on your resume be a sin when you gig is lying?

Let our true Statesman finish this for me. Ladies and Gentleman, Billy Bragg.

And remember, your not an idiot. That dude may be.
It says here that the Unions will never learn
It says here that the economy is on the upturn
And it says here we should be proud
That we are free
And our free press reflects our democracy

Those braying voices on the right of the House
Are echoed down the Street of Shame
Where politics mix with bingo and tits
In a strictly money and numbers game

Where they offer you a feature
On stockings and suspenders
Next to a call for stiffer penalties for sex offenders

It says here that this year’s prince is born
It says here do you ever wish
That you were better informed
And it says here that we can only stop the rot
With a large dose of Law and Order
And a touch of the short sharp shock

If this does not reflect your view you should understand
That those who own the papers also own this land
And they’d rather you believe
In Coronation Street capers
In the war of circulation, it sells newspapers
Could it be an infringement
Of the freedom of the press
To print pictures of women in states of undress

When you wake up to the fact
That your paper is Tory
Just remember, there are two sides to every story

Al-Roker
Crap Rises To The Top: News Edition

Free To Be Freaky: In Praise Of They Might Be Giants

My Fellow Americans.

I’ve come to you today to discuss the meaning of true Independence. In its most effective form. I am here to praise the American Weirdo.

For I have known them. I have sang their songs, eyes closed, every lyric accurate.

I have clapped and stomped for returning weirdo heroes. I have waved flags and pledged allegiance with simple slogans like ‘Everybody dies frustrated and sad and THAT is beautiful’ or ‘I’ve built a little empire out of some crazy garbage called the blood of the exploited working-class’.

I have seen great mobs of people from every conceivable age, race, religion come together and jump at once to the sound of accordion and large, miked stomping stick.

The uniform they wore was a huge giddy smile. Everyone of them.

For I have been to a They Might Be Giants show.

If you create something that is completely original, wholly unique, a true extension of your weirdo nature, a couple of actions are expected.

1) you alienate everyone
2) the few you don’t freak out are your audience. Cater to them. Water them, watch them grow.

And as you challenge the existing system we call The Music Business, you don’t settle for acceptance. You aspire to more. You create free phone songs and truly groundbreaking videos that quietly kickstart ‘alternative music’ a decade before the term was coined.

And you keep your eyes on the prize. Be good to your audience, give to them fully, freely. Let your enthusiasm, your absolute freak-muse, infect the people.

And keep working. Let the land rise to meet you. These connections will gain there own space and invite you in. And these shoulders will carry you into the wider culture.

But the culture is fleeting. To attempt to capture the culture is to bore the culture. The culture only desires the things that no longer need it.

So be not distracted. And start touring with a horn section cause the opportunity allows.

And you succeed. You become that invaluable element in so many lives. You do it well, and your odd peeps will teach their children using your words, your sounds, your bizarre character.

It’s a truly American story in it’s purity and hope. And how hard work and weird ideas can be a commodity. And it is as true now as ever.

This 4th of July, celebrate appropriately. Put on a big fake prosthetic fore head to cover up your real head. And grab a guitar and sing a verse of ‘Alienation Is For The Rich’ and see who sings along.

Weirdo.

gia

Free To Be Freaky: In Praise Of They Might Be Giants

Cock Rock Cage Match: Jonathan Richman VS Bad Company

It is a too rare treat to discover something unknown that completely confounds and compels you. Not something that you understand, not something that is reminiscent of some greater Universal work that you have loved all your known life. Not a genre or movement or draw on your hipster gland (‘this was made for US. THEY don’t get it’).

Something that steps into your head, pops the top and rearranges the contents until it fits. And starts subtly changing the definitions, the limits, of an art form. Personally, if not globally.

Something beamed in from some alternate dimension that was watered and fed on the culture your part of. But the zipper shows up the rubber monsters back. That’s not a regular monster. Not the monsters we’ve come to expect.

And where others get these particular kicks in deeper, darker LSD infused fugues, I opt for a more simplistic mind blowing. Make mine a Jonathan.

I never saw ‘There’s Something About Mary’. I never invested time in discovering The Modern Lovers. So I was completely unprepared.

With my first listen to Jonathan Richman, via a single dollar find at a flea, I was….uncomfortable. It’s hard to describe why. It’s almost felt like I shouldn’t be listening to this as a heterosexual male. It was effeminate. It was light and spare and the singing sounded like a joke. And the songs were simple and dumb.

Problem is I couldn’t stop listening. Morning, noon and night, that record became my constant companion. I wasn’t aware how much I was enjoying it; it was more akin to liturgical study. There’ was a great mystery within these songs. A personal X File.

I understood why I liked it. He is a walking history of Pop music as art form. Whether accurately describing, influence and actual sound of the ‘Fender Stratocaster’, or liberally borrowing everything in the American Rock and Roll canon for ‘Parties in The USA’, I recognized him as someone whose simplicity belied a truth, maybe a nostalgic truth, but still a truth.

And the arrangements he chose to work in were pure JpK bait. Spare, fat electric or thin electric, snare drum, maybe a bass. Some grand doo wop harmonies. I like my listening music to have lots of space for interpretation; let me make the melodies in my head, whether lyrical or musical. That way it’s a shared sport.

It is a universal truth and not one I’m the first to mention: the awesomeness of a rock and roll song is directly related to the number of instruments on it. Too many instruments, you are left to ride along. Too few instruments is like a Chinese fire drill. Everyone drives. Interactive and anonymous kicks. Good for everyone.

But….it took me a while to get here. Cause at first listen to Jonathan Richman, I could only think of Fred Schneider. In time, I came to love and admire the B-52’s, but that was not my first reaction. No. My first reaction to hearing the B-52’s was to take the tape out of the player (not my tape, nor my car) and whip it out the speeding cars’ window. But I was a kid. One expects to have such knee jerk reactions to alternative lifestyles at that age. Kids are dumb.

Which made my reaction to Jonathan Richman more….concerning. Cause I have evolved far beyond teens (I tell myself) and an adult isn’t allowed to have such juvenile reactions to things different. Not if they are NOT an asshole.

If you still believe all the things you did at 14 in the decade of 40’s, you may be an asshole. Ask someone you know. They will likely be honest, asshole.

And as usually happens, my immediate, visceral reaction revealed far more about me than the work of Jonathan Richman. Cause Jonathan is a man who loves woman. I would say he is right there with Paul Rodgers in terms of He Man chick slaying. Except in place of the scads of ex Zep groupies Paul dropped his bell bottoms for, I imagine that Jonathan had one woman he wrapped his twisting libido around.

Lets take Bad Company’s ‘Feel Like Making Love’. Demanding. In the vocal, you don’t get the sense that Paul doesn’t mean ‘making love’. I picture poses and literal fireworks. He sounds demanding. The girl may want to fake it and not upset the Tarzan of Love.

Now compare that too ‘Closer’ by Richman. A song about sharing a marital bed. With Jonathan proclaiming ‘closer…closer…’. He’s not discussing a close feeling or close deep talk. He wants in. He describes the dynamic with much grinding. Perhaps some frustration on his wife’s part cause the dude never stops needing to be ‘closer’. It’s erotic and truly identifiable for any guy whose ever been married.

Compare ‘Can’t Get Enough’ from Bad Co to ‘Every Day Clothes’. Now despite Paul’s insistent ‘I take what I want. And baby, I want you.’ I’m not convinced there’s much in it for said groupie aside from a night of telling Paul ‘It’s OK. it happens to lots of Cock Rock Stars.’ It’s not that it’s unbelievable. Its just a really authentic cartoon from a hack writer.

Jonathan digs his girl in her sweats and those unimaginable over sized sweatshirts. He’s likes that jussst fine. Jonathan is a realist. He loves his woman. He doesn’t need sheer fabric to remember whats beneath those figure flattening threads. It’s on his mind con-stant-ly. Closer. Below the clothes. Closer. Between the sheets, the clothes removed. Closer.

Take ‘Rock and Roll Fantasy’ and match to ‘Monologue About Bermuda’ for a real taste of fame and life on the road. Maybe it’s cause the concepts, the ideas that Bad Company existed in became so outdated so quickly that they couldn’t see….or just didn’t care….how cute they would be some day. Limousines and record companies covering the bar bills is so quaint it might as well have an ‘Olde’ before it. And sell Maple candy.

Where in the talk piece that is ‘Monologue About Bermuda’, you get the real sense of life in a traveling band: shifting sands, new influences, frustration, boredom, anxiety. A sense you are constantly repeating yourself. Plus it’s much funnier.

But…. boys love Bad Company. Everybody loves Bad Company. They are the waffle of Rock. Who doesn’t like waffles?

Richman is more of a crepe. Even I don’t like crepes.

But…I like Jonathan. I’m OK with that.

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Cock Rock Cage Match: Jonathan Richman VS Bad Company

Life As Defined By Learning The Piano

Chords. Built on notes. I don’t understand how to play the chords yet so I work my notes. It becomes muscle memory. I hear the notes meet and feel them blend, foundations.

And yet my fingers play dumb, stoned, surfer, Picillo-ied. It falls apart. The swear that follows blows ash off the keyboard and echos with plate reverb.

So it’s notes and repetition. It’s cramped, non ergonomic positions and focus. And constant Rewind – Record. Repeat.

A mountain starts with a step. A war starts with a shot. A song starts with a note, and notes get piled on: harmonic, dissonant, octave. And chords come and you have flight.

Take time from the all consuming ALL of life and get here, in front of the keys. Learn. Take effort from the act of living well or surviving adequately and work on your timing. A half beat can be your doom or breakthrough. You can’t know until you know.

It’s sunny and 75 degrees. But I cover the window to keep the constant Park Ave traffic sounds manageable. It could be midnight or 3 in the afternoon.

Learn. 1.2.3.4. Notes make chords. Chords are progress. Joy.

There is a difference though. Tween life and learning piano. You can take lessons and training for one. The other. … not.

So I work the notes. Chords, broken Baroque by accident. Maybe. Maybe fate.

Tiny steps can be big trips.

And tiny trips can be big steps.

piano-notes-and_keys

Life As Defined By Learning The Piano