Here is a close-up of my latest song. A gift to struggling lovers on Valentine’s Day.
Here is a close-up of my latest song. A gift to struggling lovers on Valentine’s Day.
(Check them out on the “Merch” page.)
They worked me in Fort Wayne, I gotta say — three staggered sets in Midwestern heat-n-humidity. I broke my cardinal rule of “Never play a song twice at the same show.” But things are different at these 6-hour Pit Bull Rescue fundraisers. I played all three of my canine-oriented songs once at the beginning, and once at the end. (Needless to say, I’m appealing to the kids. And by kids, I mean children –young children. Like cigarette companies, I’m cultivating that next generation of Shipe fans, so I can keep doing it ’til I’m old and gray. But, I also sneak in some adult-oriented stuff like “The Beast is Back Again.”)
I had a really nice moment with one of Fort Wayne’s best local artists, Sunny Taylor. She did an amazing version “God Only Knows” (Beach Boys). This is not an easy song to learn or play. Such a beautiful piece and she really nails it. Then, as I was going into my 2nd set opener — the intro notes to Temptations’ “My Girl,” Sunny said, “Hey I almost played that song!”
“Well,” I said, “Do you wanna sing it … key of C?”
“Yeah,” she said. “Modulate to D?”
And she the verses. We sang harmonies during the chorus. I love that impromptu stuff with fine musicians you’ve never met before.
Warm thanks to Kim Sargent of Fort Wayne Pit Bull Coalition for inviting me out there to Indiana and the almost-anonymous donors who sprung for my plane ticket. (I hadn’t been out to Indy since my Renegade Saints days.) And thanks to Janet & Jerry for taking care of me for 3 days and nights. Thank you all so much.
My new year kicks off nicely with a boost from the Eugene Register Guard (specifically, musical writer Serena Markstrom) who lists “Hard to Believe” as one of the Best Local Songs of 2011.
It’s my simplest, rootsiest country tune off Villain. A broken-hearted country lament in the classic male/female duet style. I credit my duet partner Halie Loren for putting it over the top, and producer Ehren Ebbage and guitarist Al Toribio for injecting just the right amount of twang.
Now, if I can find someone to help me shop the tune around Nashville, I will pay such a person handsomely in foot massages, grilled cheese sandwiches, and untold royalty percentages.
Insomnia hit me bad after my Thursday night Pecan Grill show. I tossed and turned in an El Paso Motel 6. On one hour of sleep, I was awake at dawn to drive 8 1/2 hours for my opening slot at Gypsy Lounge in Austin.
As I drove out of El Paso, along the Rio Grande, I was suddenly hit by a an unpleasant surprise. Although Mapquest had promised me that I would arrive in time, I hadn’t noticed that the drive time was based on West Texas speed limits! Sure, you can drive 600 miles in 8 hours… going 80 miles per hour!
I don’t like riding my beat up 1990 Toyota Corolla Wagon so hard, full of gear. But what could I do? I’m a professional. I pony-expressed it all the way through “no-country-for-old-men,” freaking out the whole time, listening to my car’s every rattle, whistle, squeak and any utterance of old-automobile pain. By the time I got to Austin, my beloved vehicle had acquired 37% more rickitiness. (Isn’t that the technical term? Or is rickiticity?)
The good thing about the drive is the condition of Texas roads. They are so smooth. Either the great state of Texas has impeccable road priorities, or Rick Perry makes good use of Obama’s Recovery Act funding.
When I arrived at the Gypsy Lounge, guess what!? I was not slated on the bill. In fact, there was no “bill” at all. A dj was scheduled to start spinning at 10:00 pm. For the moment, however, I wasn’t even thinking about performing. I wanted a refreshment. Like range-riding cowboy just off the dusty trail, busting through the saloon doors. “Bartender, give me a drink!”
I played anyway. The owner asked me, “Are you good?”
“Yes, I’m good.”
For the time being, I have no will to get angry at my booking contact. I’m mostly here in Austin for the Pit Bull Events this weekend, hosted by Austin Love-a-Bull.
Woke up in Ashland, OR where I paid a visit to my good friend John Grimshaw (director of “Pit Bull Rescue Woman & “Yellow House”). I got here via a highway adopted by NORML. (Something you’ll only find in The State of Jefferson, which includes Humboldt County. Ah, the Great Northwest!)
Good to see John again, who had to leave Hollywood behind — temporarily — just as I have, until further project infrastructure is robustified. We commiserated, planned, theorized, and encouraged one another, and assured ourselves that we would soon release the second episode of Laurel Canyon Back Porch Variety Hour.
I’m planning a tour of the American Southwest — around Halloween time — between my wife’s and my mother’s Scorpio birthdays. (What a terrible husband and son am I!)
I could really use some help finding venues (and booking them). So please chime in, friends, fans, family, and Pit Bull people.
The dual foci of my desert adventure are two Pit Bull Benefits: Phoenix on October 27th, and Austin on November 5th. I’m thinking about Flagstaff, Prescott, Tucson, El Paso, Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Taos, Durango, El Paso, Kerrville, Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, Ft. Worth and/or anywhere else a there’s room for me at the Inn. I won’t be hitting all these places; time doesn’t allow. Wherever I am welcome…
I am grateful for any & all aid and comfort.
I said I’d do it, and I did it….finally. My cohort John Grimshaw and I made a video/slideshow out of “Pit Bull Rescue Woman” (Thanks to a multitude of contributors in the world of Pit Bull Rescue, the list of whom you’ll see on the YouTube posting.)
Although the song waxes tongue-in-cheek, I hope the message of gratitude and reverence rings out loud and clear.
I’ve got a confession, though: The seed of this idea does not belong to me. It belongs to Mr. Grimshaw.
Back in April, I had just returned from an event in Phoenix, a benefit for May Day Pit Bull Rescue. I had had such a rewarding experience, and I was so impressed with the woman who ran the operation, that I couldn’t stop bragging about how smart, organized, and authoritative she was. And somewhere in the conversation, the subject came up that she also very attractive… uh…. as a woman…
“Oh,” said John G. “Is she single?”
“Um,” I said. “I don’t know.”
“Well,” said John G. “Maybe next time I could go with you. And you could introduce me to her.”
“Are you sure?” I asked.
“What do mean?” he replied.
“Well” said I, with unusual thoughtfulness in my reply. “She’s a pitbull rescue woman.”
“What do you mean?” asked John G.
“A pitbull rescue woman,” I replied, “ain’t for the faint of heart.”
“Is that right?” said my friend John Grimshaw.
Moments later, I found myself sitting on the couch in the next room, a little dazed, and wondering why I had said what I just said, as if I really knew what this pitbull woman was like. And suddenly, I heard, faintly from the other room, my friend John Grimshaw strumming lightly on his guitar, and singing: “Pit Bull Rescue Woman, she ain’t for the faint of heart………”
And this reminded me: One of the great secrets to being a successful songwriter is knowing when a good song is staring you in the face. “Pit Bull rescue woman; she ain’t for the faint heart.”
I confess, I’m a little embarrassed, as a songwriter, that I missed the obvious song-hook moment.” But that’s what’s collaboration is all about.
As I go into the 3rd phase of the Villain promo run, new reviews begin to trickle in. Here’s one from Anna Maria Stjärnell at Luna Kafe (Sweden). She is kind. And it’s no surprise that she praises my friend and beautiful duet partner Halie Loren, refering to “Hard to Believe” as “countryish in a sweet way” with “sharp words” that “contrast with the blue mood.”
I thank Anna from Sweden.
I don’t have much Swedish contact yet, but I am well aware of how friendly Swedish audiences have been to American music that isn’t commercially popular in the States (going all the way back to the great jazz artists like Roland Kirk.) I love Swedish film–Ingmar Bergman, Max Von Sydow, Liv Ullman, Girl with the Dragon Tatoo…
It’s time to spread the word throughout North Carolina of another Pit Bull Benefit where I’ll be performing.
What: American Pit Bull Foundation’s Summer Concert
When: Saturday, July 16th
Where: Charlotte, North Carolina
Venue: Amos’ Southend
I always look forward to these events. And I’m never disappointed. (My upcoming music video “Pit Bull Rescue Woman” will testify.)
On a semi-related tangent. My favorite stand-up comedian is a fellow named Bill Burr. A consummate, in-the-moment perfomer.
He has a DVD out called “Let It Go.” If you like stand-up, and you like Pit Bulls. You oughtta check this out.
About 48 minutes into his show, he goes into a routine about how he got to know his girlfriend’s dog.
Hilarious and somewhat touching.
Pit Bull Advocacy on my mind this week:
For the record, I am not an advocate of censorship. However, I am all for pressuring companies to voluntarily make the right moral decisions in the free marketplace.
Also for the record, I am not entirely certain that video games directly cause bad behavior amongst the kids who play them. (As a musician who lived through the anti-heavy-metal crusades of Tipper Gore, I understand the argument “this is only role-playing fantasy.”) However, everyone has their particular outrages, and this is mine. I work with Pit Bull Rescue around the country, and I am aware of the absolute, abject, insane cruelty inflicted upon these canine creatures. If you learn what I’ve learned, you’ll sign this Petition.
Now for something more fun: I’ve got a project going called “Pit Bull Rescue Woman.” And I am need of photos of women who work in Pit Bull Rescue. If you are a foster, a volunteer, an adopter, or the director herself, please send me photos of you and your dogs. But I don’t just want women kissing and hugging cute dogs. I want the full complexity and humanity of women who do this work. From determination & toughness, to compassion & gentleness. From hard-nosed gritty to sweet & soft, to sexy. (But please, this is NOT a request for women to send me sexy photos.) Candid shots are best, especially of woman building kennels, treating sick dogs, training dogs, etc. Better yet, pictures of women with very, very bad-shaped dogs, to reveal just what sort of suffering y’all attend to.
See my contact page for where to send jpegs. Thanks, and bless you.
To avoid complicated legal issues, I’d like to treat the sending of any photo as permission for it to appear in a YouTube slideshow.
In conclusion, sign this Petition that even Michael Vick agrees with.