Saturday, November 28, 2009


The new TV Mike & the Scarecrowes album Spittin' in Cursive made the East Bay Express's Best of 09 list.

"With Devendra Banhart, the Freight & Salvage, and Hardly Strictly Bluegrass commanding national spotlights, why shouldn't the Bay Area be a bastion of self-styled folk revivalism? But a banjo and a stash of Pete Seeger records does not a 21st-century folkie make. There must be a broader vision — something to warrant trotting out the old familiar tropes. Rooted as surely in the West Oakland warehouse that frontman TV Mike calls home as in the timeless continuum from Seeger to John Fogerty to the Avett Brothers, TV Mike & the Scarecrowes excel on vision and execution alike. Part string band, part cow-punk (at times recalling fellow locals the Trainwreck Riders), and gently transcendent through and through, their debut reveals no shortage of ideas, nor of skill to see them through. The whole thing, from TV Mike's alluring drawl to Toby Oler's slow-stepping banjo, resonates to a frequency all its own. (Brave Scarecrow Records)" Nate Seltenrich


Thursday, September 10, 2009


The kitchen where I sit and write this is very real. Before me a table. Behind me a barrelhouse piano that has been turned into a speaker cabinet for the record player. That was a fun night. The laptop running out of battery. If you could have made a time lapse video of the majority of my encounters with Evan Francis I would have been sitting on this bench. That's not to say I don't go places, but its where I like to sit. Your video would show Evan, blurred and suited, horn in hand, buzzing in from rehearsals and whizzing out for gigs. You could slow the video to see stills of Evan eating spinach straight from the bag or calling upon science. If you checked the timecode, the single pattern that emerges is that it keeps happening, expanding exponentially according to logarithms I don't quite have a handle on yet. Day or night. Piling on the gigs. The man stays busy.

And, for a reason. As one of the consigliere in the local SF Jazz Mafia, Evan Francis leads his six piece Spaceheater's Blast Furnace crew as well as holding down a chair in the flute, clarinet, and sax sections of other mafia incarnations in their self-described "sonic jihad." You can catch Spaceheater's Blast Furnace at Yoshi's SF the first Tuesday of the month or at their record release show September 29th at the Independent hosted by Bay Area rap icon Lyrics Born. The name is no lie; these players make bikram yoga look like making snow angels.

Spaceheater's Blast Furnace new self-titled album is the musical equivalent of being on deck, stepping up to the plate, and rounding first base all at the same time. The CD confidently shapeshifts between danceable afro-latin and hip hop rhythms, icy cool melodic lines, and playground jazz often with an unexpected warmth and immediacy. If I were you I'd download that shit right now.

thanks to Lauren Stower (photos)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


repost from last year in honor of Marvin, R.I.P. 08/09/2009

I wouldn't say I grew up with mules plural. We had one, Marvin, and briefly two, but she died while giving birth. One day a trailer from Nebraska pulled into the drive, backed up to the calf barn and dropped her off, heavy with colt. Marvin would bray from the adjoining lot and drag his dick on the ground. With age, he has mellowed. I learned that, like all animals, including us, if you feed him, Marvin will be your friend. Some mornings, Marvin will nudge his feedpan out under the gate as a gentle reminder. He still serves as a combination rooster/watchdog.

I remember Dad tying headstrong little steers to Marvin to break them to halter. It was an entertaining tandem. If the mule wanted to drink, they would get to drink. Same for eating and generally anything else. If the mule wanted to. Stepping out of line meant getting donkeybit along the ridge of the neck or kicked. A day or two on the mule's schedule was enough to strip a young calf of its' will.

But how to break a mule, an animal long noted for its stubbornness? On smokebreak near Council Bluffs, Iowa, an old horsetrainer just told me. It's called sidelining.

How to Sideline a Mule:

1. Attach one end of the rope, noose-style, around any of the mule's legs. Pull it tight. The best place is the joint just above the hoof. A sheepskin or leather tie is best because nylon can break the mule's skin.

2. Pull up on the leg and once it is raised and bent at an angle approaching 90 degrees, tie the other end of the rope around the mules neck. The mule is now rendered three-legged. As soon as they lose balance, they lose confidence.

3. After your mule has fallen over, place a tarp over it. Make sure it is completely dark under there. Give it a couple hours.

4. Remove the tarp. Your mule will be a blank slate. And always carry a knife like this in case something goes wrong.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


my name is chris, I love roast beef
I got a peppercorn stuck in my teef
to save my cheddar I eat at home
the sound of me chewing is my new ringtone
hit me

Monday, July 27, 2009


Quinn is an Oakland, CA guitar rock trio that sounds like they did their homework. Their self-titled EP opens up with the spooky "I Don't See You Anymore" which about two minutes in completes the warm wet slide from heartfelt indie rock plea into Beatle-esque timing shifts and counter-melodic lines. Quinn features Nate Brenner on drums, the nexus of the connection between a circle of Oberlin College alumni and Indiana musicians. If you were to join me in constructing a Venn Diagram of the two, together we would see an ever increasing overlap to the point of impending concentricity. Brenner uses his drums like a theater manager uses effective set design and lighting, bringing out the flash only when it calls for it in the script.

My highlight is Andrew Conklin's "Doctor" which comes strutting in like it owns the place. Guitarist Emery Barter hovers above musical touchstones like a UFO, suspended briefly and cemented into your brainpan before jetting off to collect the next specimen. "Dangerous Miss," begins like a swanky toss-off Bond theme, brings out Matt Nelson, suspected affiliate of the San Francisco Jazz Mafia and known Warriors fan, to touch on some Morphine saxophone territory before time-traveling into a section that dares to call on your suspension of disbelief as Quinn welcomes you to THE carribbean retro lounge of the future, replete with alien and terrestrial scat singing and technicolor fizzy umbrella drinks brought directly to your floating table. Haaayyyyy. Closing it down with an obvious harbinger of their future direction, "Soul" uses a modern indie/r&b synthy guitar line as a catchy point of departure into velvety hinterlands of their choosing.

Click to Download Quinn EP

Check them out live:
8/5 Portland, OR TBA
8/6 Tacoma, WA The Den *early*
8/6 Tacoma, WA Doyle's Public House *late*
8/7 Olympia, WA ABC House
8/8 Seattle, WA Cafe Racer
8/9 Eugene, OR Sam Bond's Garage

Or Check them out online:

Monday, July 20, 2009


My friends do awesome stuff. I'll start posting more of it. Above is the art of one Mr. Max Kauffman, a current Denver-ite and Hoosier ex-pat, who has the ability to please women with only a glance. I would just post our last g-chat here as an example of the man's inherent genius but I would fear for your soft parts and their exposure to the terrifying shrapnel of truth.

Above is a piece inspired by Buckydomes. If you would like to see this little slice of ocular heaven levitating on your very own wall, please send me Three Thousand Dollars in American Currency. No sequential bills. No bills from the bottom. No dyepaks. The money, and I mean all the money, will be put to good use to outfit Max's new batcave-style "Art Grotto." The whiskey fountain is nearing completion. Act fast.

Seriously. There are no chairs in here yet. We are sitting on stacked case after case of Diet Mountain Dew. If Max ends up with bad posture, that will be on your conscience, dear reader. So to recap, we have: Pleasuring women with merely a glance; Buckydomes; and the new batcave-style "Art Grotto," of which I will be released from if I can come up with three thousand dollars. HELP!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Supposedly inspired by a dream visit from singer Matt Lundquist’s great-great-grand-uncle Otto, this rollicking tribute to the old days is classic Americana. Boozy, twangy, and often rather funny — this is what country sounded like before it went pop, when it still had the blues. - EAST BAY EXPRESS

The Lost Songs of Otto Mobile was recorded to 1” analog tape in the summer of 2008 at House of Faith studios in Oakland, California.

The Lost Songs of Otto Mobile


Sunday, February 22, 2009


the moon was full, he felt the pull and wandered from the hunt
his father called and brothers all, yes we will find my son 
oh brother lost oh brother oh a vale of trees he found
oh brother lost oh brother climbed in high above the ground

tightly squeezed through thorny trees, he saw a pool there
in it a maiden bathing and the moonlight draped her hair
oh brother lost oh brother oh she hadn't on a stitch
oh brother lost oh brother let a whistle from his lips

stillness breached she could not reach up to her folded dress
oh his eyes burned she quickly turned and soaked him with a splash
oh brother lost oh brother oh all wet and in a daze
oh brother lost oh brother oh it did not break his gaze

if luck befell, you're free to tell you saw me in the nude
now afright, the moon alight, his feet grew into hooves
oh brother lost oh brother antlers sprouting from his crown
oh brother lost oh brother now he's scared and off he bounds

o'er hills and logs, the bark of dogs lends him to a breath
he turns to shout, come get me out, but his mouth the message kept 
oh brother lost oh brother oh they're gaining on you now
oh brother lost oh brother chased down by the hounds

father yelled, my boys be well, our hounds have found a stag
although one less, our god has blessed and filled our hunting bag
oh brother lost oh brother oh we search unto the dawn
oh brother lost oh brother oh yes we will find my son

quoncunque jeceris stabit

Friday, February 20, 2009


[las-i-tood, -tyood]

–noun 1.weariness of body or mind from strain, oppressive climate etc.; lack of energy; listlessness; languor.
-noun 2.a condition of indolent indifference
1525–35; < L lassitūdō weariness, equiv. to lass(us) weary + -i- -i- + -tūdō -tude

Our story begins in the mind of a writer. Inside this writer's mind lay a vast depository of letters, numbers and symbols commonly strung together to form words and the words strung together to form sentences. This writer strings together sentences to form paragraphs and the resulting paragraphs are then sold on a piecework basis to the Economist.

The second paragraph starts with me biting my nails and waiting on an elevator. I am in the Federal Reserve, where I replaced a machine, and I am taking the mail to Janet Yellen. I am drinking your coffee and I am reading the Economist. The word lassitude catches my eye and my brain will not come up with a matching definition. I try to continue flipping through the magazine, perusing, gorging myself on events over which I have no control. Alas, I cannot. I must know.

Our third paragraph has me continuing through the building, floor by floor, catching peoples' eye and asking them if they know the definition of "lassitude." Classic icebreaker. I give the example in context. Only one, of maybe thirty, hazards a guess. Very few even reckon. The blank eyes of the chronically indifferent. Almost all silent and stone faced.

I find myself alone in the elevator thinking is there a name for this state of languor? This lack of energy or these weary eyes? With spring just around the corner; will I come back to life? What do you make of these lines that keep appearing on my face? Is this environment not suitable for neurons to fritter and synapses to fire? What is this state of indifference; this stasis; this?

Some questions just never get answered.


dear toby,

i had a dream last night:

i was playing bass for guns and roses on this enormous stage in front of thousands of people. before we went on, axel gave me a piece of paper with all the changes for all the songs. when we got on stage, i had lost the paper, didn't have the changes. the stage was so big that the other band members were literally a hundred yards or more away, so i could barely see them. i couldn't hear my bass at all in the monitors but the soundman behind me kept yelling that it was fine on the house speakers. so the throngs could hear what i was playing but i couldn't. therefore i had no idea if what i was playing was right. i kept playing in A and hoping for the best, thinking someone would surely tell me if i was out of key. no one did. the soundman in my dreams probably just turned me down in the mix. fucker.

yr friend,
chris m

Well Chris M.,

You did the right thing.


Thursday, January 29, 2009


Left for me Friday January 16th 3:16 pm EST

"I could just see you sitting at some workbench, like, meticulously and manically, you know, fashioning this lure, you know, like, up for days, refusing sleep and food and everything all in the quest of fashioning the perfect lure to catch this perfect fucking fish. That it's probably no longer even about the fish, really. It's probably about something in you now. And, uh, probably something that you gotta prove, or something left undone...On some level, probably something as simple as can you catch it –still? Can you have it if you want it –still? Can you you gain some kind of unseen upper hand that doesn't really exist, you know? You gotta ask yourself, man, whats it all really about? What are you really trying to do, man? Clarify your intent in one sentence. If you can come with one sentence thats not bullshit that is, you know, no, you know, bullshit about it. One sentence on your true intent, with this situation, I think that'd be very, very useful to you and I would love to hear that sentence when you get it. And don't make it a fucking compound sentence or a runon sentence or any kind of bullshit. I'm talking about one sentence. I may allow one comma, depending on the use of the comma, but nothing more. So. And then you know, further, I think, if we could, you know, in any situation whittle our intent down to one non-bullshit laden sentence; I think thats a good thing. Find the sentence. I wanna hear the sentence. Maybe help me find my sentence. Fuck. This. Bullshit. Take care, brother."


Adam's Apple
Baby Bottle
Carbon Copy
Drug Drawer
Electric Eel
Fatal Flaw
Good Graces

Sunday, January 11, 2009


The Nashville Knives feature "Picker" Dan Bilger on guitar, Ryan Deasy on bass, Barry Elkins on mandolin, and Toby Oler on banjo.
01. Heartbreak
02. Barefoot Nellie
03. When I Swam Across the World (Becky Levi featuring the Nashville Knives)
04. Southern Flavor>Columbus Stockade Blues
05. Slewfoot
06. Foggy Mountain Special>White Freightliner Blues
07. Stealin' Hearts
08. Hard Times
Click for Download