Drumsong (Drum Solo Contest Entry Tape, mp3)  Click to play or right click and 'save as' to download.

Fairly recently, I ran across the original entry tape to a drumming contest I was in a few years back.   Ok, quite a few years back. 

The extended drum solo this is NOT, I was actually attempting to put together something more accessible and actually...song-like.  You know, with a theme, and then some variations on that theme.  So most of it was improvised based around the original groove.  I remember recording this live with my first 4-track recorder and two inexpensive room mics.

This is the original cassette mix, in all of it's low-volume, tape hiss glory.  Still, it's fun for me to listen back to this little snapshot, so I thought you might like it too. 

Whatz Up (Live at TC Buzz, mp3) (to download this, right click the link and choose save as..)

One of my favorite things to do is record and perform songs I've written with my children.  This one (by my 9 1/2 year old daughter Lexie) is brand new and this was the first time I played it in a live setting.  In fact, I did not have approval from the writer to play the song until moments before playing it... Her idea was to put together a pattern of different sayings.  It's fun, it's silly, it's Lexie.  Enjoy, Jeff

Test Drive (mp3 Of My First Apple Garageband Experiment)120_2024

Last year when I bought this handy dandy Apple laptop, good for lotsa stuff, this was one of the first things I did on it.  I plugged a condenser mic into the powerbook, but since I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, I was actually recording through this little hole in the upper left corner of the laptop--the built-in mic.  Doesn't sound too bad, actually, with a little reverb and the double vocal. 

This is only a partial song idea.  Anyone want to finish it?  I could send you the original garageband file if you'd like. 

In the process of learning a little bit of garageband (not to be confused with garageband.com--Apple has a license to use the same name), I layered and stripped apart some of the canned loops, added a little living room armchair percussion (I did this entire thing from my rocking chair), and added the vocals.  In the process, I captured my little Jakey yackin' and the grandfather clock chiming in tune with the song.  Too fun. 

Slow Down, Live, December 12, 2003 (mp3)

142_4203"Slow down, you're drivin' too fast.  These memories won't last if you don't live them first."

Two years ago this month, I put together a group of friends to perform the first official 100 Year Picnic show.  We had myself on vocals and acoustic guitar, Edwin Pierce on bass, Tony San Filippo on percussion, and Ken Thornton on guitar.  We rehearsed a few times, and on this snowy winter's eve, packed an enthusiastic crowd (of friends and family!) into the Crazy Planet Kitchen. (photos by Steve Jordan

A few of the songs we played were brand new, including this version of Slow Down, featuring Ken's masterful slide work.  This is a song I really love to sing.  It's a bit of a note to myself as songs often are for me.  We'll have a studio version on one of the next records. 

Enjoy, and Happy New Year to you and your families, Jeff

I'd Take You Anyplace (Alternate Guitar Solo)

"Enchanted by your grace, I would spend another life with you..."

Some of you have probably heard the story about how this song started with a drum track that I did for Tommy Neal.  As an experiment, I wrote a completely different song around the drum track, using a flange on my acoustic guitar, and then adding a few layers of vocals, which you know I like to do.  My good friend, and Thingies bandmate Steve Harris played the big and tasty bass.

This particular version (available for the first time ever!) is a rare mix that I dug out of the studio archives.  This mix includes an alternate guitar solo, played by guitarist Trefan Owen.  Other than my flangy guitar, I think Trefan did all of the electric guitars for this song within 15 - 20 minutes.  And in a matter of minutes, Trefan ripped three awesome solos for this song.  The hard part was deciding what NOT to use. 

Many of you know the one we chose for the record, but I always loved this one too.  I believe it was the first take.  One of the things I always liked about this song was the contrast of the jazzy verse and the big pop chorus, and this solo really pulls more of that jazz element into the song.

If you don't have the original version of this song, check out the original KILLER guitar solo, available on on iTunes for only 99 cents... 


Make Things Right (mp3 4-track demo)

"All I have I'll give you, all I give you'll take.  Some are meant together, some are meant to break."

Sometimes you gotta do whatever it takes to hang-on to the most important thing.

Come On (mp3 8-Track Demo) 

"Light the candles and let the wind blow in.  Let the kitchen curtains fly..."

I wrote this song a few years ago.  In fact, it was the first song I wrote after September 11, 2001.  In addition to being an initial response to this national tragedy, it was a reminder to myself of all the things I thought I should be doing.   

Well a couple years passed, and I was attending an event in support of a family friend who was about to receive a bone marrow transplant to battle his second recurrence of Hodgkin's disease.  His name is Rob Moser, and I'm told he is doing great, now two years after that successful transplant.  Anyway, at the time, many of Rob's friends and supporters had been asking what they could do to help.  His unselfish response was for us to reach out and help OTHER people.  So in what must have been one of the lowest moments of his life, he is reaching out to US to reach out to others.  Take time to do the things you love with the people you love.  Share with a teacher or a friend how they've made a difference for you in your life.  Spend quality time with your kids.  Wow.  This very powerful message from this survivor created quite a stir in all of us. This is the recording I made one afternoon that week. 

Fast forward another year to September 11, 2004.  Besides being September 11, and all of the thoughts and memories that day brings to us all, it was a fairly ordinary day.  But at 1:30 in the morning we received one of those phone calls that you never want to receive.  My Dad had died very suddenly late that evening while on vacation in Wisconsin.  Of all places, he was returning to the dance floor at a wedding reception, and he collapsed with a massive heart attack.  He was only 61.  Anyway, I share this story because we decided to play this recording at my Dad's funeral. 

It is a song for the living.

Isolation (mp3 of a 4-track demo)

"She said, 'You and your isolation...  What are you tryin' to escape from?  You can't stand to walk away, so let me back into your life.  It takes two to make one wrong thing right.'"

To me this is a country song, whatever that means these days.  It may not sound like a country song to you, but the chorus with the three-part harmonies was certainly inspired by some old country records we used to clean the house to on Saturdays when we were kids.  Back in those days, it was stuff like the Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers, the Statler Brothers, Kenny Rogers, and the Eagles. 

I wrote the words to this song in the backseat of our car while returning home from a vacation several years ago.  With no guitar, and just a vague idea of a melody, these words poured out onto the page, much to my surprise and delight.  This may be the first time I've finished a song where all the words came first...

Well as these things sometimes go, the song was not really finished until very recently.  The 4-track demo exercise is a great way to force yourself to finish at least a presentable version of the song.  In the process, you find little things that need to be tweaked or fixed.  In the case of this song, it was deciding on an intro, writing a new bridge, fixing the lyrics to fit the melody of the new bridge, and developing harmony vocals. 

This is also the first time I used piano to finish writing a song.  The version I started to record had no bridge, and I knew it really needed to go somewhere else, but I wasn't getting there on guitar.  I switched over to piano, which I've been learning for the past 7 months from my amazing teacher Sam Strakovsky, and this wonderful bridge popped out.  For the demo recording, I pared down to acoustic guitar and vocals to keep it simple. 

Anyway, I kinda like this one...


Ray Bradbury Meets Frank Black (An Interview By Frank Black)
Ray Bradbury Meets Joey Ramone (MP3 Of An Almost Finished Song by The Thingies)

Once upon a happy time, I played drums and helped write songs in a lively original rock band called the Thingies, along with my two great friends Steve Harris (lead vocals and bass) and Ed Pierce (guitars).  We released a six-song cassette called "Unspookable" and we were working on a full-length album that we never finished.  We do expect to finish it one day...  One of the unreleased songs was called "Ray Bradbury Meets Joey Ramone." 

Thanks to my favorite music blog, largeheartedboy.com, I came across this awesome interview of Ray Bradbury by Frank Black.  I knew Frank was a big Sci-Fi nut, but I didn't know he was such a huge fan of Bradbury.  In fact, he named one of his albums, "The Cult of Ray", after Mr. Bradbury. 

Bradbury also happens to be one of my favorite writers as well, and the 100 Year Picnic name is actually derived from "The Million Year Picnic," the final chapter of his classic, The Martian Chronicles.

A few years back, I was lucky enough to attend a lecture by Mr. Bradbury himself, and I came home to help The Thingies write "Ray Bradbury Meets Joey Ramone."  So check out the inteview and then listen to our version of a legendary rocker meet the legendary writer.  And if you'd like to know more about Mr. Bradbury, check out the new authorized biography "The Bradbury Chronicles."


Billy Bob Joe

Finally, here's a recorded version of our highly requested Billy Bob Joe, written by my daughter (who was 7 1/2 years old at the time) and her 8 year old friend Katherine.  I helped with the music, but you gotta checkout their amazing words. 

I recorded this on a tascam 424 4-track that I found on ebay for $70. I pulled it out of the box and recorded this song in the kitchen with an SM57.  Enjoy!