Archive for the ‘Instruments’ Category

Quilt detail - Sue Stevens

Detail of a quilt made by Sue Stevens

My cousin Megan reminded me that my aunt made me a dulcimer for Christmas one year. She was a huge influence on where my music has taken me. She encouraged my mother to give or she gave me a banjo and my first mandolin, as well as making the aforementioned dulcimer. The dulcimer was wicked out of tune all the time and couldn’t be put right but it was an awesome gift anyway. Sally was a big supporter of bluegrass, of which I do not play, but the instrumentation has sunk in and I love those acoustic american folk instruments. The mandolin has stuck with me. My mom and aunt where both quilters and crafty people of all types. I think that is where I get my creative side. Thanks mom. Thanks Aunt Sally. I dedicate “Sew What” to you two.

Here is “Sew What”, one of the songs from Simple Songs. I’m not sure the mandolin part is going to make the final cut but check out the rhythm section. It is a 1955 Singer Featherweight sewing machine. Rock On!

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J100This is a little side project I started. Seven simple songs. I tried to keep everything very simple: the arrangements, the chord progressions, my playing. I also played some instruments that are new to me. This is sort of imposed simplicity, kind of like talking in an unfamiliar language. I am entranced with ukulele tunings. I play ukulele on a few songs and the tiple on one song. The tiple is a crazy ten stringed instrument. You tune a tiple like a ukulele but the tiple has double and triple courses. These double and triple courses are tuned in octaves. It is fun to play but my instrument is kind of funky intonation wise. I really liked this added element of simplicity and funkyness.

These are a couple early drafts of songs.

I still think I will add some bass on some of the tracks and have it mixed by someone who knows what he or she is doing. I hope you enjoy.

The cover art is a paper cut by Jose´Chardiet.


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Party Mandolin


I haven’t posted for a while now and I thought I should weigh in with a word or two. I have been working hard at some new tunes. I’m still enamored with delays and some sound warping effects with my mandolin. As a result the new tunes are a little outside of the box I have been playing in the last few years.  What I have posted here are some sketches.  I plan on fleshing them out with a wider variety of musicians and a grand debut in February.

Letting Go:  This is a little tune in a fast 7/8. Thanks to Corey Stevens for playing the bass. I wrote this song as my mother-in-law was passing away.

Sun In the Night: layers on layers in patterns layered on to the layered patterns all spinning around and grinding to a ……..

Mandolin in shadow
Mandolin in shadow

Cool Morning Early has a really nice ambient introduction worked out that gives the sense of the early morning waking up. Unfortunately it doesn’t appear on this recording.  You’ll have to come to the premiere in February for the full effect.

I’ve got a bunch of other tunes along these lines that I am anxious to share with people in the next few months.

Stay tuned. Thanks,


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