A good friend of mine is a generous and giving soul.  To me he is someone who gives freely from his heart and I'd like to be more like that.  He's also a gifted musician and you would know his brilliant cello arrangements and performances on Looks Are For Free and Come On

He's also a goofball who writes some of the wackiest yet somehow sincere tunes.  Like, he has a new one called Sputnik, which is an earnest dedication to his beloved vacuum cleaner from the 60s.  Then there's the wild and psychedelic round of golf in "Fear In The Heart Of A Sportsman."  And how could we forget that summer beach classic "Conch Shell" about blowing loudly into a conch shell just to annoy your lover?  Well, you get the picture.  You need to hear these songs!  He's planning to put together a website later this year to share these fun little tunes.

But for now, he has given me permission to share one with you here on our website.  The song is called "Mother Lode," and it's by Kurt E Hoffman.  Right click to download it:  Mother Lode  

Here's what Kurt says in the song:

In my life, I have loved, then there's all those things that I was born with
And I was lucky as we all know, to have known the Mother Lode.
And I was lucky to have found, a love that would last and last, 
And I was fortunate to have a family with a future and a past,
Guess I got me here the Mother Lode, Yes I got me here the Mother Lode.

As I look back on this crazy year, this song puts everything in perspective for me.  Despite all the ups and downs, I am so very thankful for the love in my life, my beautiful wife, awesome kids, great parents, friends (and neighbors), and so much music.  

I think it's interesting that he chose the Mother Lode as the metaphor for Love, because the term came from the mining industry and usually it implies hitting the paydirt or finding the main source of gold or silver.  A life of love is indeed a rich life.  

Kurt then goes on to say:

And if we're all just as lucky to have found the Mother Lode, then maybe we can all return the favor.
I believe the Mother Lode is a treasure that we all, can share upon.
So I will put my best foot forward in an effort to lighten up the store, 
And we give this all to the Mother Lode, including all those things that we adore.

Yes, it is not enough to be gracious and grateful for this gift, but we must also give it back.

So here now in 2009, I will put my best foot forward in an effort to lighten up the store.  Kurt, thank you for this gift of a song, and here's to the new year brother.  Cheers!  

Heaven (Live)  Click to play or right click and 'save as' to download.

"They may love you, they may show you in what they do or say. But they cannot save you unless you want to be saved."

This was the first time we ever did this song in front of an audience.  At the end of the song you can hear us cracking up about it.   

It was part of our Crazy Planet show (with Edwin, Tony, and Ken) that also included a first-time performance of Slow Down, our Download Of The Month from December 2005.  The instrumentation for this version of Heaven is quite a bit different from the album cut, so I thought it might be fun to put it up on the website.  Compare and contrast to your delight.  And lyrics are here.  Enjoy! 

The Schwagcast (Podcast Theme Song) Click to play or right click and 'save as' to download.

In 2006, one of my goals was to finish mixing one song per month.  Well, I didn't even come close, but I did digress into some other fun directions, such as digging into the podcasting culture and writing theme songs for some new friends.  I've learned alot in the process and met some very cool people.

This one is just drums and vocals, similar to the approach I used on the Get Jacked! theme song.  I'm sure I could add more to this, but it is kinda fun as is, and I think it matches the vibe of the actual Podcast show, which is pretty much the goal. 

I approach each one of these as a fun challenge.  Basically, I get an idea and don't want to stop until it's done.  These were recorded very quickly and very simply, often using the Apple laptop with GarageBand, with a four-tracky approach to knocking it out. 

Check out The Schwagcast, a fun show based out of New York that has been very supportive of 100 Year Picnic.

Radiostatic.am (Podcast Theme Song)  Click to play or right click and 'save as' to download.

While focusing on recording and mixing the new 100 Year Picnic, I did get a bit lax on posting the download of the month, sorry about that.  So here's an attempt to catch-up. 

Last year, I challenged myself on various occasions to write theme songs for some of the podcasters out there supporting independent music and 100 Year Picnic. 

I thought this one turned out pretty interestin g.  Yes, that's me actually trying to pull off an electric guitar solo!

You can checkout the radiostatic.am podcast at, you guessed it, radiostatic.am

Too Much Love (Live @ Home)  Click to play or right click and 'save as' to download.

Too much love in this house
Squeeze it in and pour it out
And when you're gone I'll fill my cup
With too much love in this house...

This is actually the song for September, so yes, I'm running a little behind.  For all you fans out there waiting, waiting, waiting for the September Download Of The Month, I recorded this live in the kitchen, just me, an acoustic guitar, the iRiver, and the Sony stereo mic. 

It's a new song from this past summer.  Every year, Cathy and the kids go to Minnesota to visit the grandparents.  With my day job schedule, I can't always make the trip, so I'm left at home alone.  Not necessarily a bad problem to have, right?  I always think of all studio work I'm going to get done while the house is quiet, but it never quite happens the way I think it's going to.  The fact of the matter is we love to be together, and this place gets lonely when it's so quiet.   

So anyway this song is something I actually DID complete that week while the fam was gone.  I sang it for the kids when they returned.  By the way, kids DO listen to the words and Lexie's comment was, "Why do you say there's too much love when none of us were actually here?"

So I said, "Good question.  Well, I was being sarcastic.  You know how when you say to me, 'nice shirt Dad,' but you really mean 'Dad you look totally dorky.'  That's being sarcastic."  "And what did you think of the song, Steven?"

"That was SO special," replied my 10-year old son with his very own brand of sarcasm. 

My Bitter Half Click to play or right click and 'save as' to download.

You can have my bitter half, you can have my pill
You can have my bitter half, but you don't want it...

The July 2006 Download Of The Month was a little improvised number called Electric Tuba.  For that, we talked about our beloved "Improvised Song Project."  This month's unreleased release, My Bitter Half, was also an improvised piece, but with words, melody, and bass added later. 

Edwin and I improvised the guitar and drums, I believe in November 2001.  Soon after, we had a fun melody for the song, with lots of crazy syllables and sounds, but no decipherable words.  My very good friend Steven Harris calls this "Syllabating."  For me, this has turned out to be a very useful and effective songwriting technique.  One of the many things I've learned from Steve.   

Then what after the syllabating?  Well, sometimes if you listen carefully to the syllabating, you can actually start to hear real words in there.  Often those words begin to help form the theme for the song.  In this case, we had the opening word riff, but no words for the second half of the song.  So this puppy sat on the shelf until the rest appeared this last summer.   

To finish this off, we took the original stereo mix of the improvised guitar and drums, ported it over to the laptop, and added the rest of the tracks.  My friend Collin Stokes, who I get to play with in the Brian Choban Jazz Quintet, came over and put down a brilliant, vibey string bass line.  Then he did another cut through with some experimental bow action.  Magic!  Collin brings his very improvisational approach to the studio as well, which is perfect for this track.  I added vocals with the new words, mixed it on the lappie, and this one's finally done. 


Electric Tuba Click to play or right click and 'save as' to download.

Here's a little instrumental ditty, improvised by yours truly and my talented friend Rick Bennett.  You may know Rick as the prolific singer-songwriter and bass player from the punky power pop trio, Frankenpony.  If not, check them out, they have a fun new record out, and we'll talk more on that later...

Back to Electric Tuba, this piece is a part of our "Improvised Song Project."  Ok, now the project has a name. 

My good friend Edwin and I have been doing this for years.  So there is a huge backlog of material.  Basically, the idea is to get two or three guys in a room (the basement studio) and make stuff up and catch it all on tape.  Yes, sometimes we still use "tape."  This one was done on an 8-track ADAT, hence the use of tape.  See this way, we don't have to booger around with laptops crashing and hard drives filling up.  And it gives us joy, and that's why we do this.

Anyway, we then make a quick mix of our favorite tracks from the evening, which usually amounts to 40 minutes worth of music to choose from (because the tapes go for 40 minutes).  Occasionally, small doses of beer may or may not be involved in this activity.  Then in the days that follow, we play these mixes of our improvised songs in our cars and laugh our butts off. 

Sometimes we get ideas for melodies and words, and then we record those over the top, and giggle some more.  Sometimes you can hear our audible giggles on tape, because we like to laugh while we record.  Is that wrong? 

Well, we'll start this series off with Electric Tuba.  Rick is playing bass through my little Fender Blues Jr. guitar amp, and that's me on my favorite instrument, the drumset.  In case you were wondering, no tubas were harmed during the recording of this song.  We just made it up on the spot, without discussion.  Maybe that will become quite apparent...or maybe not.  It's just playing and listening, and pure fun.  This little piece cracks me up, so I hope you enjoy it too. 

There is much more to come, and they are all very different, so stay tuned kids.

I'm So Glad It's Almost Summer, The Sun Is Gonna Shine On Us (Live @ Home, mp3) Click to play or right click and 'save as' to download.

With the first official day of summer just days away, I thought this would be an appropriate choice for this month.  The kids are out of school, and they have an exciting summer ahead of them.  Do you remember feeling that way?

Now what happens when it's almost summer?  Well, the sun is gonna shine on us...  Not only do kids say the darndest things, they are sometimes quite wise in their innocent observations.  This is another collaboration with my daughter Lexie, who was 4 1/2 years old at the time we wrote this.  She wrote almost all the words, I just added a few connectors here and there to pull it all together.  I'm including the words below:

I'm so glad it's almost summer, the sun is gonna shine on us
I'm so glad it's almost summer, the sun is gonna shine on us
Schools out, scream and shout, nothing to worry about, the sun is gonna shine on us
Grab your suit, your fishin' pole, I'll take you to a swimmin' hole
The sun is gonna shine on us

You can do anything that you want to do
You can be anyone, but I like you the way you are

I'm so glad it's almost summer, the sun is gonna shine on us...

I love you so much, more than you will ever know
I love you so much, more than you will ever know
I love you so much, more than you will ever know
The sun is gonna shine on us, the sun is gonna shine on us
The sun is gonna shine on us

As babies and toddlers, nearly each night at bedtime, I would whisper this phrase into the ears of my two children:  "I love you so much, more than you will ever know." 

To have my daughter send this message back to me in song was quite the gift.  I'll take it.

The Unharshed Mellow (mp3, Podcast Theme Song) Click to play or right click and 'save as' to download.

On the mellow...  On the mellow...  On the mellow...
On the unharshed mellow...

Seuss and Addie from The Unharshed Mellow were the first podcasters (outside of the hometown) to pickup a 100 Year Picnic song for their show.  They do a totally chilled-out, West Philly late night show with great independent music, mellow conversation, interactive beer tasting, plenty of laughs, and the occasional power belch.   And you gotta check out the title of this recent show.  I guess they like their theme song...

This particular little number features my good friend Brian Choban, playing an old-timey muted trumpet solo.  He nailed it on the first take, you see, because he is very good.  (By the way, you can also hear Brian's trumpet work on I Started Thinkin' and I'm In Denial.)

We had just finished playing a jazz gig for two hours at TC Buzz, and he so kindly popped over to cut this awesome little trumpet bit for the unharshed theme song.  (In addition to my 100YP eclectic pop labor of love, I've been playing drums in the Brian Choban Jazz Quintet, and I'm having a blast.  If you are in Bloomington, Illinois, (shameless plug) we play twice a month (shameless plug)--2nd Thursday at TC Buzz (shameless plug) and the 4th Thursday (shameless plug) at Chicago Style Pizzeria). 

So anyway, be sure to download the theme song and checkout the podcastic Unharshed Mellow...  Cheers!

His Name Is Red Boy (mp3, Podcast Parody of 'Bad Day') Click to play or right click and 'save as' to download.

"Who has the show you need the most?  A charming hostess, a congenial host
What do you do when you know someone that talks too much, goes on and on
Just give up, give them a microphone!"

Ok, I admit it, I'm a sucker for ridiculous parodies, and this one's for my friends Redboy and Absolute Amy over at the Redboy Podcast.  With all of their podcast chattering about American Idol, Redboy had this idea to change the words up for the now overplayed vote-off theme song, Bad Day. 

Red found the backing tracks on one of his radio resource sites, I wrote these silly words to go with the music, and of course, I did my best Daniel Powter impression.  Enjoy!