Sunday, December 1, 2013

Art Miami 2013

A few months back, an amazing opportunity presented itself. I was contacted by Alicia LaChance from Hoffman LaChance Contemporary and invited to participate in Art Miami. Alicia had submitted the gallery as a presenter at Aqua Art and was gathering a number of artists together to help represent the gallery. I was thrilled to be invited and jumped at the chance to participate. She asked about smaller, newer works that I could send down to Miami. I was at a loss mainly due to the good year I had. Virtually every painting I had completed this year had sold, except for one. This didn’t leave me with many options for sending down recent works. I decided to include the pieces I had done for the Tower Groove Records subscription series. These were small and fairly recent, completed in Dec of 2012. I thought I might have time to complete two new small pieces and started on them. One of the band Demonlover playing at the Heavy Anchor and another of a special live performance at Laumeier Sculpture Park featuring Arrington de Dionyso, Thollem McDonas, and Eric Hall. I was able to complete the Laumeier Park one in time to be sent down for the show, pictured above.

The thought of being part of a such a huge art fair is mind blowing and I greatly appreciate everything Alicia LaChance and Michael Hoffman have done. This list of artists showing works includes John Phillip Abbott,
 Michael Behle,

, ,,,,,,,
Christopher Burch,
David Carter,
Jon Cournoyer, Michael Hoffman, Kahlil Irving,
Jeffrey Cortland Jones,
Kit Keith,
Ron Laboray,
Alicia LaChance,

Alicia LaChance - New Village
Robert Longyear,

Benjamin Lowder,
Paquet Christopher,
Jeremy Rabus
Danielle Spradley


To be part of this group is humbling. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Centro-matic at Off Broadway

Earlier this year I met Karl Haglund through Twitter. Vintage Vinyl had tweeted about an artist showing paintings and prints of guitars at their store and it peaked my interested. I went to the show and introduced myself to Karl and bought a print of Jay Farrar’s guitar. After that meeting, Karl and I have stayed in contact through email and Facebook. He’s just like me. He’s entering middle age, married, has two kids (boy and girl), plays guitar/drums and has a severe addiction to painting. Karl use to live in St. Louis but no he resides in Iowa with his family and sells his paintings and prints of his paintings to a growing list of clients. One day he emailed me saying his favorite band, Centro-matic was playing St. Louis and he was making the trek down to see them and asked if I’d like to join him. Sure, I would be happy to go along. He also mentioned he’d like to do a trade of paintings. He brought down a beautiful painting of J. Mascis’ guitar and traded me a piece I had done on the building of the former location of the American Folk Museum that was located in New York City before it had to move.
We hung out in my studio for a bit and he mentioned how he’d love a painting of Centro-matic performing from me. We worked out a deal and I decided to take my camera along to the show to snap some photos for reference. Before we left we had a few beers, then we arrived early at Off Broadway but Paul was working the door and he could see we were harmless so he let us in a little early into the courtyard and we had a few more beers. It was really great to hang out and talk with someone like Karl. He’s pretty much in the same boat as me when it comes to what he’s trying to accomplish and balancing that all out with family life. We talked, we drank and before we knew it, it was dark and the first band was opening. Half-Knots is a local STL band that has connections to the Undertow label and they started the night off with a terrific set featuring Chris Grabau on guitar. A few more beers later and it was time for Centro-matic. I’ve always been a fan of Centro-matic but this was my first time seeing them live and they were phenomenal. It’s always amazing to see musicians who are roughing it on the road play a top notch set even with technical issues (apparently the bass drum pedal stopped working and a replacement had to be found). I snapped a few photos and was finally happy with a shot of all 4 members.
After the show Karl talked with various members of the band, he had brought a print for one of them and he already knew Will Johnson (front man for Centro-matic) from collecting Will’s art and vice versa. While Karl was busy with Will, I was at the merch table giving a sob story about only having 7 dollars in cash, but the band was more than willing to cut me a break and sell me a vinyl record. With my new purchased bounty I wandered over to Karl and Will. Karl introduced me as “The artist” to Will and I tried not to show I was in awe of him. I mentioned to him that we had a common acquaintance and Will knew who I was talking about. He asked how he was doing and how I knew him. I told him we were in our first band together. Will asked the name of the band and I looked him square in the eyes and said “From Sikeston, MO, the Bearded Clam Wonder”. He said, “Oh?” and had a semi-confused look on his face. Even though I was telling the truth, I knew I had gone too far and better make a respectable retreat. I told him how fantastic the band sounded and wish him well on his travels.
We all piled into Karl’s friend’s car and they drove me back home. That very same night Billy Bragg was playing at the Old Rock House to a sold out crowd. Earlier in the day he had done an in store appearance at Vintage Vinyl and while there he saw Karl’s prints of guitars and loved them. When Karl got home from that STL trip he had an email waiting for him from Billy Bragg asking him to paint his guitar.
now playing - Centro-matic

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Hoffman LaChance Contemporary

Over the years I’ve been very lucky to have been associated with Hoffman LaChance Contemporary gallery in Maplewood, MO. They pretty much focus exclusively on displaying work from painters and I greatly appreciate being involved in numerous shows over the years. I still remember about 8 years ago watching a small piece about them and the gallery on PBS while feeding my newborn son. At the time I was getting seriously back into painting and I had a little daydream about how cool it would be to show at their gallery. The next year I was included in their group holiday show thanks to William LaChance. Since then I’ve gotten to know both Michael and Alicia and they have always been helpful, encouraging and supportive.

Another group show is coming up at the gallery and the opening is Friday Oct 11. The theme of this show is “Zombies” with 30 + artists both regional and national showing original work. Their openings are always fun and entertaining. Many times I’ve gone thinking I’ll just pop in for an hour to check out the work and end up being the last one to leave or we move the party to a late night bar and even once we got some bowling in at Saratoga which is just a few buildings down from the gallery.
I wasn’t sure what to contribute to this show but settled on a simple portrait of Frankenstein who seems to me to be the first or original zombie, though man made. To make it interesting I decided to use oil instead of my usual medium acrylic. I had an old wood panel measuring 12 by 12 inches and spray painted it green. I made a rough outline of the face but didn’t like how it looked so I wiped it out and started over. While I was making a new outline, my daughter wandered into my studio and asked what I was doing. I showed her the picture I was working from but she didn’t think much of it and asked if she could paint. So I set up an easel and got her started next to me. Then I returned to my piece and started filling in the details. Every now and then my daughter would look over and see what I was doing. Or she’d get up and play with markers or listen to music. After about two hours she looked over at the painting and let out a small scream. She was surprised at how it looked from the last time she saw it and it frightened her. She immediately ask that I put the painting away so she can’t see it anymore. I said, “OK” and figured if it scared her that much then it must be done and sat it on the rack to dry.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Bob Reuter

I first met Bob around 1999 or 2000 when Frederick’s Music Lounge was re-opened for south city bands to perform nightly. He would be either performing himself or working the door or just hanging out. Back then I didn’t know anyone having just moved to the city in 1997 from Northern California, I was the weird quiet dude who had the weird drum machine band. But I lived mere blocks from Frederick’s and I was attempting to fulfill my childhood dream of being a part of the city of St. Louis. I watched in awe of Bob performing his tunes, usually on an acoustic guitar and generally wondered who this amazing old guy was. Then I saw his photography work and was blown away. His grainy black and white photos of the people and places in St. Louis looked exactly as I imagined St. Louis should look. At that time I made a mental note in the back of my mind about what Bob was doing and how he was using the city as his subject. It wasn’t obvious nor was it obnoxious, it was real, it was honest and it was inspiring. It was the St. Louis I wanted to live in and contribute to.

From there I would gradually get to know Bob. I’d see him at Fred’s or CB’s or Mangia or The Way Out Club or at the City Diner (at its old location). Just passing ships in the night. He didn’t really approve of my band at the time with my bad singing and our use of distorted electronic beats and sounds but that didn’t really bother me. Later he’d see me playing drums in various bands and we’d get to know each other a little better. One night he witnessed Jason Rook carrying me out of Mangia as I was puking. When I next saw him he ribbed me saying, “Last time I saw you, you had yellow stuff coming out of your mouth”. Then he’d talk about how he hasn’t drank alcohol in years and how I should do the same. Over the years I’d watch him move from band to band, from Kamikaze Cowboy to solo, to Palookaville to solo, to Thee Dirty South to solo, to Lost Monkey to solo, and finally Alley Ghost.
I realized early that Bob was poor and it was one of the things that drew me to him. I’m very familiar with poor people, coming from a teenage single mother in a tiny town located in Southeast Missouri, you become very familiar with being poor. It was one of the things that made me want to get to know Bob better. I had seen and known guys like him growing up and I understood where he was coming from. There’s an intense yearning that there’s more to life than simply going to a mind numbing job every day. There’s also a lot of stubbornness and pig headed self inflicted destruction that goes along with the territory that I’m all too familiar with and guilty of myself as well. I suspect most self-made artists have this trait but it comes from something deeper as well. Comes from literally starving because you have no food or freezing while you sleep cause you can’t afford heat. You either learn to live happily in a cage or you roam free, uninhibited. Bob chose the latter.
Around 2003 or 04 I was starting to get back into painting. I had taught myself to paint sometime around 1994 and always did it on and off without much direction of focus. But in 03 after being around Bob and seeing what was going on in St. Louis, I decided to get back into painting and to exclusively focus on the people and places of St. Louis. This decision was a direct result of seeing what Bob was doing with his photography and knowing all the cool things the city has to offer that wasn’t getting exposure. Of course Bob was clued in on all of this long before I was around but his influence and encouragement set me on the path I’m on today. And for this I’m greatly in his debt.
It wasn’t always smooth sailing when it came to Bob. There were many times I saw him and he’d flat out ignore me or say something very harsh and unnecessary to me. I’m sure he had his reasons and I’m guilty of the same type of behavior. But I learned long ago that it’s very important to accept artists as they are whole stock and barrel. What makes an artist great is the same exact thing that makes an artist not so great. You can’t have one without the other. And this is how I thought of and treated Bob. However, and I say this with all the joy in the world, the last few years of his life were truly happy for him. Anytime I saw him he was happy, always interested in talking about what he was up to, asking what I was up to, always engaging and encouraging. I think this had a lot to do with his surgery but also with the new band he had, Alley Ghost. These kids not only took care of Bob but they also took care of Bob’s photographs and his music. It’s because of these young musicians that Bob’s last few years alive could very well have been his happiest and I’m personally grateful to them for doing that for Bob. He deserved it.
It's always tough to write about these kind of things cause you ultimately end up talking more about yourself than the person who you're trying to honor.  There are a ton of people out there who knew Bob better than I ever did.  That was another great thing about Bob, he affected and influenced such a wide variety of people from all walks of life.  He definately touched my life for the better.  St. Louis has lost another one of it's most important artists on the same magnitude of another great St. Louis artist whose life was taken by a tragic accident, Bob Cassilly.
On Sunday Sept 8 Bob’s close friends are having a memorial in his honor at the Casa Loma Ballroom. There will be speakers and musicians reading Bob’s words and performing his songs. There will also be a silent auction of many items with all proceeds going to the new foundation that was set up at Bob’s request, Cowboy Angel Foundation. I was invited to donate a painting for the auction and it’s a great honor for me to give them the painting above of the Buttery with the hope that it and all the items available raise as much money as possible to help keep Bob’s dream alive.
now playing - Alley Ghost

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Maximum Effort at CBGB

I read something yesterday that kind of struck me as an universal truth. It was from a column by The Great Jaime Lees in the RFT. She had interviewed Jimmy Griffin and he said, “One of the first things we always tell them is that nothing ever goes right in rock and roll. And it's the guy that you don't want to kill at a truck stop in the middle of Oklahoma at two in the morning that stays in your band, you know? A lot of things about music involve bending and being able to go with the flow and figure out your place in a group.”

“Bending and being able to go with the flow”…That alone is great advice for anybody regarding anything. It hit me because so many times you start off doing one thing but because of other people and circumstances, you end up doing something else. However, if you “bend” and “go with the flow”, you might find things turn out for the best anyway.
I offer the painting above as an example. It’s of the St. Louis band Maximum Effort playing at CBGB from a show on July 3. In the painting you not only have the members of Maximum Effort but also an audience made up of musicians from some of the best local groups in St. Louis right now. Starting with the bass player on the left, Chris Keith, who I first met when he was playing with Jason Hutto’s last band Warm Jets USA. Then you have the drummer, Tom Valli, who is also a member of the incredible band Shaved Women. In the center of the painting is Zeng who is a personal hero of mine. Not only is he in Maximum Effort but also Bug Chaser and the awesome Catholic Guilt and maybe more I’m not aware of. He’s a South City Rock and Roll God. On the far right playing guitar is Adam Hoskins who has also been in many local groups but is probably best known in the South City Three which plays with Pokey LaFarge.

In the audience is a wide assortment of musicians as well. Down on the left is Ben Salyers from Shaved Women, close to the center is Matty Coonfield who I first met when he played in the fabulous The Electric twelve years ago, but is currently in Bug Chaser and Tone Rodent. Then to the right is Elly Herget who fronts The Skekses and right behind her is Brice Baricevic from Rat Heart and Bob Reuter’s band Alley Ghost. And in the far back is Jeff Robtoy, who is another personal hero of mine. He fronts Pillow Talk and handles guitar in Tone Rodent and does so many other things behind the scenes that it’s impossible to list.

Now, back to the above mentioned quote and how this painting came into existence. Early this summer I was talking with my friend Thomas Crone about different ideas and ways for us to collaborate. He’s a writer and I’m an artist. What can we do? Well, one thing we can do is cover local events and see if anyone is interested. OK, great, what event?

The first thing on our radar was a New Music Circle event that was happening in a refurbished building down by the river just north of Downtown St. Louis. The event was part of the Contemporary’s Open Studio that’s done each year to try and get exposure for local artists. Musicians were set up in the William A Kerr Foundation building and encouraged to play quietly, sometimes complementing each other while other times conflicting with each other, but creating an interesting mixture of sight and sound. A concept that was also explored a decade ago by Eric Hall at his yearly event at Dunaway Books. The idea was for me to do illustrations of the performers and Thomas to write about the event. We met up, soaked in the astrosphere, I snapped some photos to work from and we were off. I did pieces on Dave Stone, Laura Dempsey and Gwenyth Merner. We decided to get a few pieces under our belt before publishing anything and pondered our next event.

A few weeks passed and I happen to run into Thomas at the Royale where I’ll occasionally take my kids for dinner after they beg me for the Royale’s tasty burgers. While catching up he mentioned a great showing happening that night at CBGB featuring Rat Heart, Shaved Women and Maximum Effort and perhaps this should be our next piece. I was all for it.

That show was also the latest record release from Tower Groove Records which was putting out a single split of Shaved Women and Maximum Effort. When I arrived the place was already packed and Rat Heart was about to start. I pushed my way up front and snapped some photos. Then hung back and talked a bit with Duane Perry from Tower Groove. Then Thomas showed up and we got beers. Shaved Women started and they were incredible. I wanted to get some photos but didn’t want to push through the crowd again so I stood on a chair in the back and got what I could of the crowd. Shaved Women played a deeply hypnotic psychedelic punk that mesmerized everyone.

After a while it was getting really crowded in CBs and I needed some fresh air, stepped out onto the front patio and it was just as crowded filled with all kinds of young people I’ve never met. A whole new scene. 10 years ago I use to hang out here nightly but life goes on as they say and now I’m just some weird old dude showing up at shows. After a while I noticed Maximum Effort was getting ready to play and rather than fight my way back inside, I figured I’d just watch from the front window, which really does have a great view. As soon as they started playing the audience started slam dancing, the band was in constant motion. I held up my camera and looked through the lens, the shot looked phenomenal so I started shooting. Someone I had met last year, Bowls MacLean, was standing next to me and said “hi”. We started talking and he was asking me about the camera I was using. Bowls is a photographer, film maker and knows all about cameras and stuff like that. I honestly have no idea what type of camera I have or how it works properly. I just point and shoot and hope a decent photo comes out of it to work from for a painting. As I was explaining to him my lack of knowledge, he noticed the audience going nuts inside and people were crowd surfing and he said “You’re missing it” and he was right. So I went back to shooting and shooting and shooting. Got some great shots.

The next day I was looking at the shots and realized they’re a bit too dark to work from for illustrations (which is a different process for me as opposed to a painting). I was disappointed that I couldn’t use anything for a illustration but did really like the Maximum Effort photos and decided when the time was right I’d might do a painting of it. At that very moment I got an email from John Parker who was at the show and asked about the photos I had taken. He expressed interest in having a painting from the show and it seemed the time to do that painting was right.

Haven’t seen Thomas in a while but we have another meet up planned for another, different secret project I’m working on. The original plan we had never quite worked out but I did get some really cool pieces out of it and sold a painting. Thomas is now very busy with a cool project of his own that has been taking up most of his time as well. He’s currently in the process of writing 10 long pieces on the issue of graffiti in the city.

So, we come back to that quote from Jimmy Griffin in the RFT, One of the first things we always tell them is that nothing ever goes right in rock and roll. And it's the guy that you don't want to kill at a truck stop in the middle of Oklahoma at two in the morning that stays in your band, you know? A lot of things about music involve bending and being able to go with the flow and figure out your place in a group.”
“Bending and being able to go with the flow”, that’s the key to most things in life. What you plan for or think will happen, might very well not happen but if you can bend and go with the flow, it may turn out just as well or even better.

now playing - Maximum Effort

Monday, July 1, 2013

Sam Bush at The Old Rock House

Started on a piece tonight for the Old Rock House of Sam Bush. First put down some spray paint then my daughter helped me add black gesso. Really enjoyed his show awhile back. I'm not really into the bluegrass (or "newgrass" as my research has discovered) scene but my God, can Sam Bush play. He's phenomenal and it was a pleasure to see and hear him. Having fun reading about him too.

now playing - Sam Bush

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Mark Stephens at the Way Out Club

The painting above was originally started in either 2001 or 2002, I can’t remember. What I do remember is I had found a photograph of Mark Stephens playing with the Highway Matrons at the Way Out Club. There was nothing special about the photograph but I had gotten to know Mark a bit and thought he was a really fabulous guitar player and singer. I believe my roommate at the time, Mike Cook, had found the photo and it was laying around the house we shared in south city. At some point I decided to do a painting of the photo. I started a rough sketch of his head and body with the guitar but quickly abandoned that painting. I thought it looked terrible and discarded the canvas to a darken corner of my basement. I seem to recall Eric Moore seeing that discarded painting and buying it at some point. 
A few weeks later I tried to execute the painting again only this time on a smaller canvas. I started with the face and painted unknowingly, even unconsciously until it was done. I wasn’t aware of exactly what I was doing and then I stepped back and looked at it and was amazed. It looked just like the Mark. I barely remembered doing it. I moved on to his body and clothes. He was wearing a
psychedelic western shirt and tie with a bright silver vest. I painted these as well and everything was coming together so great. I almost began to take the painting for granted thinking it was so easy to do. Then I ran into a roadblock. The guitar. Mark’s beautiful green Gretsch guitar. I couldn’t get it right. I would try, try and try again, each time adding more layers to the canvas and ruining the painting. I got extremely frustrated and decided the painting was a failure and there was nothing left to do but sand the whole thing and start over. Mid-way through sanding I realized I was making a huge mistake and stopped. I looked at what I had done and knew I would never be able to repaint his face as perfectly as I had already done and now it was almost gone. I put the canvas away. Later I added the black lines in an effort to try and make the painting presentable and occasionally would show the piece publicly but I had really screwed it up by sanding it.
What’s the point of all this?
I’m currently going through about 10 years worth of photographs of paintings and the Mark Stephens piece is where it all began. I began to have an interest in painting around 1993 or 1994 but never really focused on anything, just kind of worked on whatever was available, an important time for learning. By 2003 or 2004 I made a conscious decision to work on and develop painting as it relates to St. Louis, primarily local artists/musicians and buildings. I had come to this conclusion for mainly two reasons. One, I had always loved St. Louis (even though I wasn’t born here) since I was a kid. And two, after moving here in the late 90s and being involved in the local arts and music scene, I realized that some amazing things were going down and no one knew about them. Back then few people gave two shits about what was going on in the city. Of course things are different now. But then I was immensely inspired by the likes of Chris Deckard, Jason Hutto, Bob Reuter, Fred Friction, Larissa Dalle, Anne Tkach, Eric Hall, Tony Renner, and of course Mark Stephens (plus many others). So by 2003 or so I had decided to start photographing all these people and the places we all hung out at and loved for the purpose of painting them at some future time.

Well, it’s 2013 now and next year will be the 10th year I’ve been doing this. I’m revamping my website and going through all the paintings starting from 2004. For the last few years my site has only had 20 paintings on it and I would slowly rotate paintings out. But once the overhaul is done it will feature all the paintings done since 2004. Hopefully it will be ready by the end of the year. The painting of Mark above was the one that got me started on what I’m doing now.

now playing - Highway Matrons

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Vintage Vinyl

When I was 14 or so I was finally allowed to accompany my older friends who were heading up to Saint Louis for the monthly record convention located in South City at the American Czech Hall.  They were setting up a booth for the day to sell their records. This was back when you could flip a Metallica “Ride the Lighting” picture disk and make a $20.00 profit. At some point in the day we headed over to Vintage Vinyl. It was on Delmar but at a different location or a smaller section of the current location. I don’t rightly remember but I do recall it being much smaller than it is now. We had a video camera with us and was generally making fools of ourselves while simultaneously annoying the hell out of everyone in the store who I’m sure could only think, “Who the hell are these hicks from the sticks?”. I didn’t purchase anything on this first visit due to the fact that I never had any money back in those days but I do remember seeing a collage by the register of Sammy Davis Jr. with the caption “I need money, BAD”.

When I finally moved to St. Louis, the first place I went to was Vintage Vinyl and purchased 5 Rolling Stones albums on vinyl for my newly acquired turntable. “Black and Blue”, “Some Girls”, “Emotional Rescue”, “Tattoo You” and “Undercover”. I don’t think it cost me more than 20 bucks. When I got home I was so excited to crack open the records and have a listen but by chance the radio was broadcasting a live show the Stones were putting on that night at the Trans World Dome. The vinyl would have to wait.

now playing - The Rolling Stones

Monday, April 1, 2013

Pinball at CBs


I remember the first time I thought St. Louis was “cool”. I was 14 years old and went to a concert at Mississippi Nights. Driving into the city was a great thrill and I decided right then and there I would live in St. Louis at some point. Many concerts at Mississippi Nights followed and then I started traveling up from Jackson to skateboard on the weekends. My friends and I would head over to T-N-T Skates which was located on Hampton at that time and map out all the spots we were going to hit. The owner of T-N-T, Jim (aka Tiger), was amused by us country bumpkins but always treated us nicely and even made an honorary team called The Jackson Connection. Then when the shop moved to Chippewa, right next to The Famous Bar, I worked there for part of a summer while living in the office area. In the back of the shop was a mini half-pipe and life was great.  The other part of the summer I basically lived at my Aunt Jeanne's house which was located smack dab in the middle of South City mere blocks from Oak Hill school, which had some of the best banks in the city. I’d spend countless hours skateboarding with Dee Belmar and Baba Le all over the city. My aunt let me come and go as I pleased and at that time my dream was to move to St. Louis and live on Chippewa.  
The image above is from either 2003 or 2004.  I’m working from a photo of James Weber shooting pinball at CBGBs on what was probably a typical Monday night. Eric Hall would be tending the bar, playing great music on the sound system and few of us early birds would be there sitting at the empty bar drinking the night away. Then, as now and when I was 14 and even before that, St. Louis was always cool and it’s great people are starting to recognize that, move here, invest in it and help re-build it. Hopefully that enthusiasm will last longer than a couple of years cause the city needs a dedicated population that will invest in it for decades to come.
now playing - Mark Lanegan 

Friday, March 1, 2013

the Union Electric

Another record cover here. This time for the band Union Electric who are putting out a 45 soon with a little ditty about Malatesta. UE is fronted by Tim Rakel who I’ve known for a number of years. Tim reminds me of the river, always in motion, always moving forward and consistent. I’ve done a number of covers for him and even painted him performing and always welcome an opportunity to work with him because he’s a great talent as well as honest and straight forward. The Union Electric plays an electrified mixture of punk and folk with a driving beat, fuzzed out guitars and pointed lyrics. To say they’re political would be an understatement, in fact their guitar player is currently the campaign manager for a candidate running in the primary for Mayor of St. Louis. They say what they mean and mean what they say, so to speak and they believe in equality for all with their songs shining a glaring light on injustices past and present. The band has put out a number of singles that cumulated with a full CD release last year which was well received on college and independent radio across the country. This new release signals another round of tunes coming out of the woodwork for public consumption.
now playing - the Union Electric

Friday, February 1, 2013

Robert Griffin as a Guitar God wandering the Wilderness playing Holy Music no one can Hear

I’ll admit it, I don’t know Robert very well. Before I really knew who he was I would hear about him from people like Steve Scariano and Joe Thebeau but I don’t recall ever really being conscious of him until I saw him play guitar at Off Broadway with Finn’s Motel. At first I didn’t even realize it was him, I was just floored by the guitar playing. I was hearing colors, seeing textures and was surrounded by a tone that could hold weight on the moon. My mind was literally blown. Later I found out that was Robert Griffin. This was maybe 6 or 7 years ago? Since then I have gotten to know Robert a little better but not really that much. I had already known he was the guitar player for a band called Prisonshake that was originally from Cleveland, OH. I knew about this band thanks to Steve Scariano who plays bass with them. Their double album “Dirty Moons” is really phenomenal. I had also figured out that he ran Scat Records which is probably best known for putting out Guided By Voices landmark album “Bee Thousand”. Then, while hanging out at the Royale for a while on Sunday nights, I put it together that he was the same guy making all the great drinks at the bar. Watching him make a mixed cocktail is just like watching him play guitar. His attention to detail and focus is tremendous. Everything is served in its due time. But that’s about as far as I’ve gotten with him. I’m much too shy to ever mention anything or ask him questions about music or playing guitar. But from that first time of seeing him play live at Off Broadway I snapped his photo and tucked it away for future reference.
So, fast forward to Nov 2012. I received and invitation to participate in a group show at Hoffman LaChance in March 2013. The concept of the show was to find a second hand/thrift store painting and add something to it of your own. On Dec 30 I went to Goodwill on Forest Park Parkway and found a large landscape oil painting. At the time I had no clue what I was going to do with it and was a little nervous about buying it cause it was so large but went ahead and got it anyway. That night I went to the Royale and had a wonderful time sitting and talking with Steve Smith and Joyce Gorrell. We discussed many things including, the value of musical theatre, the importance of taking vacations, what it means for an artist to do commercial work and at some point in the evening I showed Steve and Joyce the photo I had taken of Robert so many years ago. I told them when the time was right I was going to paint his picture and they both agreed that would be a good idea. The next day, while nursing a hangover, thinking about the previous night’s conversation and looking at the large oil painting I had purchased, I realized Robert’s image would fit perfectly in it and I immediately starting working on putting him in the painting. The result is the image above.
now playing - Prisonshake

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Tower Groove Records Singles Subscription

                                                                          Ransom Note

At some point in 2012 a meeting was held at the Heavy Anchor with the principles of the local record label Tower Groove Records. This meeting was to inform everyone of the plan to release a 7 inch vinyl single for each month in the year 2013. Each record would feature 2 bands, a single song on each side. We were told the bands involved and the months the records would be released. The reason I had been invited to the meeting was to see if I’d be interested in painting covers for 3 of the releases. Since there are 2 bands for each release, that really meant 6 covers would be needed for each side of the 3 records. And that’s what I’ve been doing since September. The paintings needed to be completed by Jan 1 so they could be photographed and sent off to the printers in time for the release date. Just made it in time by the skin of my teeth.

In all, there are 4 artists who are contributing artwork for the covers. Jeff Robtoy, Adam Watkins, Mark Stephens and myself. My pieces will be featured on The Skekses/CaveofswordS, Tone Rodent/Kisser and Ransom Note/Nee records which are released in April, May and June. You can purchase the singles individually or you can get a subscription and receive all the singles put out for the entire year for only $60.00, that is 5 bucks a record. Sixty dollars may sound like a lot but you’re getting a limited edition of releases that were specifically recorded for this series as well as the original artwork that was done by all the artists. In short, it’s a great deal.
Your next chance to purchase a subscription in person directly from Tower Groove will be on Saturday Jan 19 at Off BroadwayOld Lights and Demonlover will perform in celebration of the singles series being released.  As always you can buy online safely and securely from the TGR merchandise page -
While in the midst of painting all these pictures, I was offered a solo show at the recently opened SOHA Gallery on Macklind owned by the wonderful Julie Malone. I thought this would be a great opportunity to organize a show of all the record/CD covers I’ve done over the years along with a few newer pieces. The artwork mentioned above will be included along with paintings done for bands like Bunnygrunt, The Dirty 30s, The Union Electric, The May Day Orchestra, Eric Hall, SHed SHot, and possibly some others I’m forgetting at the moment. The paintings will be on display along with the records/CDs they were used for and a “listening station” will be available for people to hear a song or two from each release.
I’m very excited about this show but also have a lot of work to do to prepare for it.
now playing - Ransom Note