Unreleased Shipe relic found on web

So, I did a Soundcloud search for myself, to see how my cloud was coming up. It didn’t. Jess Elaine Edwards’ cloud came up. That’s odd, I thought. Who is Jess Elaine Edwards?

Upon closer look, I see my song–a lullaby called “When I Am King.”

Ah yes, I remember. From the Plug-Pulled Pollyanna Sessions (circa 2000). It was the first aborted attempt to record Pollyanna Loves Cassandra at Supernatural Sound in Oregon City. It was going to be my most ambitious project to date, recorded in one of the best studios I’d ever seen in my life. Alas, we were too raw as a lineup. After laying down basic tracks for nearly half the album, producer Mike Davis said, “I don’t get the feeling we’re making a good album here.”

So we pulled the plug. And we hit road to sharpen up (revisting the gargantuan project in 2002). We did, however, get a nice demo of this particular song, with the help of Isaac Szymanczyk on keys, and a budding teenage diva named Jessica Lageson.

“When I am King” is favorite amongst Shipe fans. But I rarely perform it. When I double-bill with a fine female singer, I try to rope her into doing a duet with me: Shannon Curtis or Jessica Plotkin (who plays viola on the official recorded version).

As lovely as this song can be, I don’t feel that I’ve gotten it right yet. The official recorded version, on Cassandra, features Stephanie Schneiderman. You can listen here and compare the two versions.

I’d love to hear this song given a complete makeover by some hitmaking machine–pop, country, or R & B.

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Pit Bulls, Hungarians, Deputies, Constitutionalists & Communists

I went to St. Petersburg to appear at a fundraiser, but I got much more out of this visit.

The event itself went as those events usually go. Meticulously planned, nearly derailed by unforeseen difficulties, yet pulled off miraculously through sheer energy and improvisation. Imagine a pack of devoted dog lovers parading a bunch of pit bulls around a sports bar beer-garden, intermingling with an overlapping engagement party that was double-booked by the venue.

Yes, the folks at Green Iguana kind of messed up with that double-booking. However, it was a blessing in disguise. Without the wedding party, there would have been no sound system. They told us they had one, but all they really had were two XLR outlets on the wall behind the stage, somewhere within proximity of the stereo system. The conversation may have gone something like this:

“Do you have a P.A.?”
“A P.A.?”
“Something our entertainment can plug into.”
“Oh, yes. We do.”

And technically speaking, they told the truth. There was something there that I could plug into. But, no actual system. Fortunately, the musician for the wedding party, a generous and awesome cat named “Johnnie B.,” stuck around and let us use his sysetm. This was a true expression of professional comaraderie. (I chatted with this man for some time afterwards. Great dude, with a fine Marc Cohn-like singing voice. Here’s a fellow who plays nearly 300 gigs a year without traveling more than about an hour to each one. Sheeee-it! I’m moving to Florida… after L.A.)

Now, about Krisztina Kallai who runs the Pit Bull shelter (Buster’s & Foster’s): she and Brian were unfazed by the fiasco-like circumstances unfolding. Steady, the exhibited my favorite calm problem-solving traits. (Think “No-drama Obama.” And speaking of whom… I’ll get to that later.)

Previously, on the phone, I couldn’t place Krisztina’s subtle accent. Was she always eating when I called? Had she been drinking? (No she doesn’t drink.) Was she in character of some sort? I finally found out why? She’s Hungarian! And anybody who knows anything about Hungarians, knows that their language is unique to itself, so the accent is unfamiliar. But hers isn’t even a full Hungarian accent. It’s dilated through Iowa and the South.

Not only is she Hungarian, she and her family escaped Hungarian communism in the late 80’s. I met her parents, and they are simply amazing people who kept me up until 3:00 a.m. with stories and life-enriching conversation. These folks bolted from their native land, found freedom in Iowa, and worked their way up to creating their own oak wine barrel business: Zemplen Barrels. (I am not a drinking man, but I had to try a certain Chardonnay as they explained to me how oak effects flavor.) They also filled me in on some Hungarian 60’s music, an band called Illes, whom I dig–like the early Beatles based on Hungarian folk.

I would have stayed up all night if Waffle House wasn’t calling.

This is bound to be a long-ass blog, so I’m throwing in the “read more” option. Read more »

Nostalgic in St. Pete, FL

It’s good to be in the South again. (Swimming in the ocean in the morning? In October? I couldn’t do that even in San Diego.)

The last time I was here in St. Petersburg was in the 90’s, with The Renegade Saints on our Southern “Fear of the Sky” tour. I’ll share the memory from my old journals

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Shipe Going to Tampa Pit Bull event

At the turn of the decade, New Year 2010, I vowed to make myself available to all those Pit Bull Rescue events I get invited to. An unlikely advocate ever since the circulation of my song/video, “Pit Bull Blues,” I’m finally making good on the resolution. Next weekend, I’ll be in St. Petersburg/Tampa, Florida. A fundraiser for a rescue called Buster’s & Foster’s Haven is being held at Green Iguana on October 9th, thanks to Krisztina Kallai.

I hope this is the first of many. All I ask for is a plane ticket and a decent bed or couch to sleep on. Most of these rescue shelters work on shoestring budgets, so my travel expense is quite a pinch. But if we can scrape it together with the help of friends and donors, I can see myself traveling all over the place. (I’ve been invited to events in Denmark, England, and Germany.) It’s not like I’m a big celebrity. Nor am I an expert on Pit Bulls. But like the idea of showing up to sing a few songs—including two about Pit Bulls—and talking a little bit about the good things that are happening with shelters out here on the west coast.

For new fans wondering I’m writing about canine stuff on my music biz blog, click the below video, produced by Jeff Fleiss. (It had become a rallying anthem back around the time of the sad Michael Vick episode.)

Pit Bull Blues produced by Jeff Fleiss.