Posts tagged: Al Toribio

Shipe song among “Best of 2011” in region

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.

Shipe CD tracking done/ L.A.

At long last, Ehren Ebbage and I have finished with the tracking for the new album.

Ebbage is off to L.A. to do the mixing. Release is scheduled for the Winter. But soon, I’ll be trickling out a handful of samples as they become presentable, offering a free download or two.

As the 12-week surge of adrenaline recedes slowly from my veins, I get back to the more even pace of rehearsal, booking, promotion, and gigging. Not to mention the CD artwork and publicity. (I’m excited to begin working with Green Light Go, a company of robust stature.)

At the outset of this recording, I confess I was in no condition to make an album. On the heels of a dry spell, re-entering civilization from Yellowstone life, and fighting off a medical issue, I had trouble slipping into my imagination and flowing with ideas. But Ebbage, producer extraordinaire with a great bedside manner, convinced me that there were a dozen gems amongst my latest 31-song batch, then he hauled my ass up to Crossroads Productions

From there, we kept moving forward until the damn fine thing was done. And I feel certain that it’s going to be the best so far the Shipester.

Ebbage and the musicians below, I thank deeply; for they are truly responsible, not just for this album, but for getting me through tough personal times:

Sean Peterson (bass)

Kevin Powell (drums)

Mike Walker (organ, piano, accordion)

Al Toribio (guitar)

Alice Blankenship (violin)

Amy Danziger (cello)

Tim McLaughlin (trumpet)

Johnny Clay (vocals)

And the Feel Good Singers: Mike Last, Jerry-Groove Abelin & Brendan McCloud

Last Drags cover Shipe

One of Eugene’s steadiest bands is The Last Drags, fronted and led by my friend Pat Kavaney. Pat consistently works a ton of songs into their set. A wealth of originals & covers. What’s really cool is the way he covers songs of his friends and regional colleagues–including yours truly (below).

I have been a part time member of The Last Drags. Pat loves jamming with friends and he knows how to make them comfortable sitting in.

Here’s a tasty morsel from Portland where he has none other than the great Al Toribio joining at The White Eagle, playing on my song “Waiting on You.” It’s appropos, as Al played the original lead guitar on the album from which this came–Sudden & Merciless Joy (1999)

They do emphasize the funky-friendly side of the tune. (This surely comes from Pat’s love of Steely Dan.)

Renegade Saints & Crazy 8’s

This just appeared outta nowhere: a satisfying indulgence by my other band–The Renegade Saints–in a great Rolling Stones number. Live at the Portland Bite Festival (2008). We were joined by none other than the Crazy 8’s horn section. Love the twin trombone attack, and love Al Toribio’s excitable arrangement.

Shipe-Ebbage Chaos at Hogan’s w/ Cargill

Hard to describe what happens in Clarkston on the Hogan’s stage. I warned Ebbage; we wouldn’t be lulling them with our sensitive side. So we get help from Scott Cargill (Lucas) on mandolin, and Jim on Jembe and Ryan on bass (with whom we’ve never played a note.)

At Hogan’s, you’re tucked in a nook, behind giant speakers, on a stage deeper than it is wide. If you’re not loud and rowdy, the music can’t make it all the way to where everybody’s sitting.

We’ve never rehearsed. Scott, my dear Lewiston friend, practices on his own, and greets us with newly crafted mando parts. We just jam it out like street musicians. All bravado and energy. Plus, he calls out songs I don’t play often, from my older rock albums–“Jasmine,” “Crawlspace,” etc. Also, he’s a Renegade Saints fan, so we bust out Al Toribio’s “Letter Home,” Mike Walker’s “Delivered,” and Dave Coey’s “Tara.” He’s got all the hooks down.

A pleasant surprise was how gorgeously Ebbage’s country side shined with the mandolin in there. Perhaps it wasn’t the best stage for his lullabies, but two-steppers like “Hurtin’ Me” and “The Way She Does It” sounded best of the entire tour. (I felt good on twangy lap steel, to boot.)

With the quasi-rhythm section, and Scott’s mad energy egging us on, why not have Ebbage play electric most of the night? His tone was so awesome, we just let him go off on long indulgent solos. (Did I mention that Scott’s right arm is a rhythmic machine? Sticking the groove while Ebbage shredded, especially on “Road Story.”

Speaking of “Road Story”, there were some devoted Jerry Joseph fans who called me out on my influences: “So, Shipe,” says this one dude, “Did you write ‘Road Story’ before or after Jerry Joseph’s ‘Drive?'”

“Okay, fine, you caught me,” I said. “Just for that, we’re gonna cover an actual J.J. song. Sit back down in your chair and soak up ‘World Will Turn.'” (Ebbage has gotten very good at thickening up our version with the electric… even without a rhythm section. I dare say we acquitted ourselves properly with that homage.)

But we pressed our luck. We should have stuck to the Miles Davis rule: Always leave them wanting more. Whether it be a musical passage, or a whole song, or a set, or an entire show, stop just short of topping out the tension by extending the climax. Restraint is key. For this Hogan’s show, the climax unmistakable; we were obviously done. But we were having too good a time to quit. As fatigue and one-Jager-shot-too-many kicked in, we ran the train of the rails. “These Days” took 15 minutes to get through three verses. I don’t think Ebbage knew what song we were playing, but he added some nice spacy notes, and the thing sort of went searching through the stratosphere–not the concise Jackson Brown song we’re familiar with. Last, and certainly least, “Crawlspace” turned into three and a half minutes of breakneck random chords.

Ah, well. That’s rock-n-roll for ya. I love it. That’s what makes it fun. You’re on stage, you’re in it together, and it ought to be a little risky. Like driving a car too fast around a curve.