Posts tagged: 7 Devils

“Better Off” in 2013

A friend from Eastern Washington (who goes by the nickname “Puck”) recently sent me a touching post, thanking me for a certain song that lifted his spirits, and sharing one of his own, thusly inspired.

Whenever I perform at Hogan’s Pub in Clarkston, (usually w/ Scott Cargill & 7 Devils) Puck requests my 12-year old break-up song “Better Off Without You.” I wrote it a dozen years ago — a paradox of anger & levity — and it got me through a difficult time. (It was cheekily deemed “the greatest break-up song ever” by a Eugene Weekly writer.) Here is a version from my former “Alternative Rock” incarnation (from Pollyanna Loves Cassandra):

The song seems to have helped my friend see the hard times through. That is the best news a songwriter can get. And, even better, Puck paid it forward by writing a similarly-themed tune “Better Off.” He graciously allows me to repost his video here:

As much as we performing/recording artists strive to get good reviews from the press, nothing gratifies like finding out that a fellow human being has been emotionally affected by the work we do. And even better, that someone would be inspired to put their own creativity to work and keep the collective torch burning.

Artists work for real human beings, not just Entertainment Biz entities.

Thank you, Puck. Keep up the good work. See you in April to celebrate happier times.

Here is the live acoustic version from the 2001 A Stealthy Portion, featuring Elisabeth Babcock on cello. (It was selected for Michelle Malone’s compilation of independent artists):

Shipe w/ 7 Devils @ Hogan’s

Once again Scott Cargill’s musical cohorts (7 Devils) lifted me up for a good time at Hogan’s. I won’t go into it too much, lest I keep repeating myself. But I must mention what a pleasant surprise were Fiddlin’ Nathanael Tucker’s un-rehearsed harmony vocals — especially on “Villain,” which is appropriate, ’cause he sports a for-real dastardly moustache.

Attendance was lighter than usual. (I hope Chef Tony wasn’t disappointed.) Too bad really, ’cause y’all missed a funky-grass acoustic version of Al Toribio’s “Million Dollar $mile!” (Damn, that hook is hard to play on medium-gauge bronze-wound strings!)

Disappointing was the absence of Jim Laws on percussion. (Family emergency — turned out okay.)

Next Gigs: Dublin Pub (PDX) Friday, Boon’s Treasury (Salem) Saturday

Shipe in Lewiston (Idaho)

Back in my surrogate home of Lewiston/Clarkston, last night was a superlative, truly unplugged, gig at La Boheme.

When I say unplugged, I mean no microphones, no amplifiers, and no P.A., in an intimate venue, with an audience accustomed to listening quietly. I gotta tell you it’s lovely.

I was a accompanied by Scott Cargill and his lineup from 7 Devils, who nailed these arrangements on the fly. Outstanding musicians, and great friends, they had brushed-up shortly before my arrival. We had minimal discussion, ran through a couple songs, and called ourselves ready. It could not have gone better.

The Devils: Nathanael Tucker on Fiddle, Jim Laws on percussion, Scott Cargill on mandolin, and Ryan B. Gibler on bass (who managed songs he has never even heard before.)

My close friend Scott is the perfect musician to do this sort of total acoustic set-up. As a deep, knowledgeable fan of roots combos driven by mandos, banjos & stand-up basses, he has the attitude for it. His mando strumming is relentlessly in-the-pocket! Together with Jim on the percussion (handling such quiet volume with authority, emotion and dynamics) I felt comfortable rhythmically — more than usual.

Fiddler Nathanael, in the unplugged format, marvels at “being the loudest instrument in the ensemble.” But with such sweet tone and phrasing, it’s a good thing. The country-ish material went particularly well with fiddle: “Villain,” “Honky Tonk Romans,” “Like Some Folks Do,” and “Some Hidden Things ” (which features a whole string section on the studio album).

We closed the show with “What Right Do We Have to Fall in Love?” The Devils didn’t know this one at all, but damn if they didn’t turn it into the big finale!

Nathanael is also the owner of La Boheme. I exhort my acoustic colleagues to get in touch with him sooner than later. A great, relaxed host, he produces special shows, taking care of both the audience and his fellow artists. He comes from a family of musicians (brother of Simon Tucker), so he knows what matters.

Tonight, Scott joins me for a duo show at Eichardt’s in Sandpoint. Come Saturday, we get take the 7-Devils/Shipe combo to the next level @ Hogan’s in Clarkston.

Shipe @ Hogan’s (Clarkston, Lewiston 8/5)

I try to make Clarkston/Lewiston my last night of tour, so I can end on a high note with one of my best friends Scott Cargill.

The venue is Hogan’s Pub, located in Clarkston, owned by Chef Tony, managed by Bailey. (These two could run a clinic on how venues treat artists. Hogan’s defies the troubled economy in the area, both in atmosphere and the business it does. The professionalism and the quality of music attracted to the stage — tucked into the back of that long narrow space — surely have something to do with it… along with the great food.)

Scott joins me on mandolin. We play souped-up, rowdy versions of the Shipe tunes he has learned. And I sit down on lap steel to play some of his repertoire: a few originals, Jackson Browne, Little Feat. Lately, he’s been bringing in his percussion man, Jim. It never fails to entertain.

But on Friday, it was over-the-top. Scott has a new band called 7 Devils. And they actually rehearsed two sets worth of my music. There I was playing with a tight band with fiddle and mandolin. Obviously, the Americana & Country stuff went well, but these guys were kicking ass on the epic, rockin’ and unusual stuff too, like “Crawlspace,” and “Love Belongs to Everyone.” Other highlights: “Delivered,” “Achilles Heart” (w/ violin parts as written), “The Weight” (w/ the big drunk sing-a-long), “Minotaur” (w/ fiddle and mandolin playing the twin leads), crazy jam on “Road Story,” and Dave Coey’s “Phoenix.”

Afterwards, my hand, wrist, and fingers were killing me. I am out of shape for that kind of beating. (But I needed the workout for an upcoming power trio gig in Bend.)

Here’s a bit of interesting music biz gossip: 7 Devils is a great country-oriented band, just starting to pick up some real good gigs, one of which was an opener for Diamond Rio. Well, guess what. As Scott tells me, they were removed from the bill because of their band name — “7 Devils.” Without bothering to find out that they are named after some mountains in Idaho, someone representing Diamond Rio decided that they would feel bad if the word “devil” appeared anywhere in the promotion… or some such nonsense rationale.

Hell, the 7 Devils logo is a silhouette of the mountain range itself, not a pentagram dripping blood.

What bothers me about this? Working musicians ought to know that when you bump someone off a bill, you have taken paid work away from them. Booking is done far in advance, and it’s difficult to replace the date with a suitable alternative, let alone a high profile opener. It takes hard work to earn spots like that. Diamond Rio ought to know, assuming they’ve had to work for their success.

Diamond Rio is a Christian-oriented band, yes. But presumably, given the benefit of the doubt, they are men of honest faith, not merely of Christian “image” working the religious angle as a marketing approach. They could have checked out 7 Devils music, learned that each of its members are family-oriented working gentlemen. Perhaps they could have worked something out with regards to promotion.

But this is a trend in our “interesting times” isn’t it? Famous people and politicians dealing in symbolism and the surface trappings of whatever ideology they want to be associated with.

Arrg! Don’t get me started… just when I’m having the nicest stretch of time I’ve had all summer (not forgetting the celebration of my old drummer’s wedding at Rattlesnake Creek Campground. Congrats Scott Headrick & Kirsten.)