Shipe chasing Greg Allman

I just hit the Top 10 on Dirt Roads 88.1 The Escape (Michigan), right behind Mavis Staples and Greg Allman. I’m hitting a lot of other playlists around the country, but I had to mention this one, because I’m a layman in the Church of Allman.

In fact, just yesterday I was practicing my hot blues ukulele riffs along with The Allman Anthology.

Blue Rebekah video gets posthumous shout out

This morning, it came to my attention that a folk DJ from El Paso (Dan Alloway, of KTEP Folk Fury) posted the “West of Eden” video from John Shipe & The Blue Rebekahs (circa 2005).

This does my heart good. I was in awe of that lineup’s imaginative proportions, and proud of that album’s creativity–knowing it had little commercial value.

It’s surprising that Dan chose this video. But I’m glad he did. While I’m an Americana artist, pushing an Americana CD, I have an alter-ego who grew up on the British Artrock of King Crimson, Yes, Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd, and Moody Blues. “West of Eden” is a dark, epic art-rocker about taking the difficult path in life. We placed it last on the album, destined to wallow in indie obscurity for an eternity.

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Shipe in hot rotation

Thanks to a warm referral from Lord Litter (Germany), “Love Belongs to Everyone” is still no. 2 of Radio Marabu’s hot rotation. (In addition to Lord Litter, I should thank Rachel Harrington of Emerging Artist Resources for introducing me to Europe’s supporters of Americana Music. She helped me send Yellow House across the pond, and luckily they remembered me when I sent Villain)

Shipe: ‘Villain’ gets 5 Stars at CD Baby!

Brad says it “chill(s) to the bone.”

Shipe pays-to-play: Voodoo Lounge Tix on sale

Friends, I’m selling my own tickets for Thursday, March 31st @ House of Blues Voodoo Lounge (9:00 pm). (I promise to be more than ten bucks worth that night.) You can get them here:

Name for will-call:

This is my first episode of pay-to-play. But it’s a fairly soft version of the practice, as far as I can tell. I’m on the hook for 17 tickets, which isn’t so bad. And I figure you gotta try everything once, right?

Shipe at BMI Koffeehouse loves R & B

A month ago, Tavi from BMI gave me some professional advice: “Go to the BMI open mics!”

So I did. Last night I got a slot at BMI Koffeehouse in Harvelle’s in Santa Monica (thanks to Mouse, the mistress of the venue.)

I was a little nervous, I admit. I would be sharing the stage with L.A. BMI songwriters. But I acquitted myself pretty well in this positive, welcoming environment For damn sure, the songsters were top notch. But they were all different, and comparing them isn’t very instructive.

As my turn approached, I hadn’t decided on what I was gonna play. I planned to connect with the vibe in the room, while playing a different style from the songwriter before me.

The result was “Some Hidden Things” and “Hours Go By.” which was a risk, because they both have the same groove. But I had good reason. “Some Hidden Things,” while maybe not my best song, has compositional trajectory. That is to say, in songwriter lingo, “it goes somewhere.” It’s in the relaxed part of my vocal range, and the chord progression builds tension and releases. A good way to introduce myself as a songwriter who, at the very least, makes musical sense.

I played “Hours” ’cause it has vivid story-oriented lyrics and a catchy melody. But I completely changed it for this spot. Slower, and finger-picked. This served two purposes: 1) It varied from the “Hidden Things” groove, and 2) I needed to sing my frickin’ ass off! ‘Cause before me, a woman named Heidi Rojas raised the bar like a vocal Olympic high-jumper, with two sexy, velvet-funky, original R & B tunes.

I felt that a slow version “Hours” would give me room to do some emotional Americana style crooning of my own.

It felt good. And by the end of the night, I was invited to participate in another event of Mouse’s hosting.

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Shipe Pit Bull Blues on Acoustic Guitar Forum

Googling myself again (for professional reasons, I swear), I ran across a link to the Acoustic Guitar Forum. Someone had posted a YouTube slide show featuring my song “Pit Bull Blues.” The ensuing discussion is quite passionate. Not what you’d expect on a music forum. (But this isn’t an ordinary forum. Other AGF threads discuss random stuff like T.V. Westerns, Charlie Sheen, and The Green Bay Packers.)

I have said before that I am the world’s most unlikely Canine Advocate. When I was younger, I must have had the ubiquitous fantasies about a music career full of idealism and importance to Western Civilization. You know…. power-to-the-people, save-the-world, and all that. But I lost my appetite for conflict and confrontation along the way. (My highest political aims now are to tell stories that evoke “empathy,” which is actually pretty damn political in its way. We’ve seen what a beating that word–“empathy”–has suffered in the media lately.)

Anyway, who’d have thunk that after 300 songs, my controversial impact on the culture would amount to this?

If I get called to the floor to speak articulately about this stuff, I hope I’ll know what to say. A lot of folks care deeply, on all sides.