Minnesota winters have never been, oh, say, pleasant, but this year has been a little rougher than normal — record snowfall, an extra-long season, and our new friend the polar vortex. One thing that did make it a little more bearable was a fun collaboration between artist Lexa Walsh and musician John Munson called Fever Songs. A tiny cabin was built in the atrium of the Walker Art Center, turned into a recording studio, and a night was spent recording improvised music to lyrics and inspiration provided by patrons of the gallery. I engineered the “session,” then John and I took the tunes home to overdub a few things and I mixed it all down later. This was a really challenging and enjoyable project.
Here’s another from the rehearsal room — live looping and effects, lots of fun sounds, no real-world applications just yet.
I realize it’s been a long time since I’ve updated the site with any sort of, say, relevant info. You know, “big gig coming up!” or “just recorded this amazing album,” or even “I’m a proud father of a beautiful baby boy.” It’s kind of a shame, because all of those things happened, some of them more than once.
I do keep things flowing a little more regularly on Twitter, but like all things social, media included, I’m awkward at best. So here’s a super-quick recap of all sorts of fun things I never took the time to write about and probably should have:
A few days at the Pearl with the super-talented songwriter Chris Koza…a few nights at the James Hill Library for a number of Realphonic radio shows — including a “reunion” show with my good friend Teddy Morgan, in whose Barrio East studio I recorded a few songs with the beautiful (and also super-talented, can we just say everyone I’m writing about is super-talented?) Lily Costner…a great album with Lucy Michelle, where I got to witness firsthand the creative whirlwind of the John Munson/Chan Poling production team, whose band the New Standards I’ve been having fun playing with…the beginnings of a new record with my friend Carl Broemel, who along with bandmate Bo Koster is all over Neko Case’s amazing new record, who joined us over at Wits where we completely shredded public radio with Iron Maiden’s “Number of the Beast.”
There’s a lot more that I could write about, but to be honest it all gets a little hazy as the most amazing thing that’s happened to me recently was the birth of my son seven months ago. Life as a father has been exciting, challenging, exhausting, and inspiring. (But mostly exhausting.)
Fueled by New Haven’s finest pizza, I played some drums and did various percussion-y things with my buddy Mike Sembos on his band’s newest album. It’s being released late October, and like all things Backyard Committee you can listen to it for free:
As some of you know, I’ve been incredibly fortunate to join the cast and crew of Wits. Wits is a radio show, recorded live at the beautiful Fitzgerald Theater in downtown St. Paul, MN. It’s in the tradition of Prairie Home Companion, sort of, in that it’s a radio show with music, comedy, and nostalgia, although the nostalgia is maybe less wistful Americana and more geeky-hipsterish.
Anyway — the lineup for the spring season has been announced, and it is ridiculous. RIDICULOUS:
3/15 Paula Poundstone with Robyn Hitchcock
3/29 W. Kamau Bell with Brendan Benson
4/12 Kristen Schaal with Rufus Wainwright
4/19 Tig Notaro with Kathleen Edwards
4/25 Michael Ian Black with A.C. Newman
5/3 Patton Oswalt with Ben Lee
5/10 Rob Delaney with Neko Case and Kelly Hogan
5/31 Colin Hanks with Jason Isbell
6/7 Hannibal Buress with Open Mike Eagle
6/14 David Koechner with Metric
The biggest perk of being in the house band is I get to make music with most of these amazing artists — needless to say I’m pretty excited. You can read more about the show and buy tickets here.
Well, hello 2013. One of the irons I have in the fire for this year is a sort of electronic-ish, drum-heavy, organic mess of things. I’m still working it out, but in my head it sounds awesome. Here’s a sneak peek into the rehearsal room — this is a live headphone feed of drums with buttons and mashy things next to me. Not quite sure what I am doing yet but it’s very fun.
Last year, with some time to kill in a small studio in New Haven, Eric Donnelly and I recorded a quick demo of his new song, “Rewind.” From the moment I heard it I was in love. We recorded the “real” version at the Friendly Forest in Nashville last August; Andy Snyder captured the session on video. It’s a powerful tune and I’m really proud to be on it.
I’m in Nashville for a few days, doing a little hanging and playing and recording and such, and I managed to squeeze in a quick jazz jam with one of my favorite piano players (Lillie Claire Morgan, age 4).
I read this great review of No October the other day…lots of nice things being said about the record and the production, but my favorite part had to be this:
Recorded in a barn (seriously) in Buffalo, Minn., with a ton of wonderful musical friends assisting … The most impressive part of the deal is that Olson is never buried by his friends. They simply help to bring to life this inspired batch of songs.
… No October is roots music at its best, as Olson combines an undercurrent of blues throughout the project and layers country and folk over that in an amalgam that is wire-welded airtight.
That emphasis is mine. When Dave and I were rounding up musicians for the project, the word “empathetic” came up more than once. It seems like kind of a pretentious word, but it truly fits the talents of everyone on this record — that is, almost everything they play makes other people sound good.