Monday, October 01, 2012


A year and a half ago my brother finally died not from the cancer that he fought for five years, but from a massive heart attack caused by all the drugs he was taking to cure the cancer. The day of his death I had a show to do with my band Bric-a-Brac. I had been trying to come up with a new project that I could do myself, that would involve singing, and that I could just throw myself into for a few months as something to take my mind off things.

 The show we were going to play at was in the DePaul University Library and was an art installation where my friend Brian's rumpus room was recreated and all the bands who had recorded in it were invited to play. Brian had created a home studio in the real rumpus room and Steve Albini talked about sound insulation and PVC pipe to the delight of all the recording nerds. It was a fun night and afterwards I told Brian that I wanted to record a vanity project album using backing tracks I had collected on albums and tapes throughout the years. Just something to give to friends.  Brian said, do it in the Rumpus Room!  I was thrilled.

Every week for over a year I would go over to Brian's, who lives only about three blocks from me, and I would drink Scotch and sing over these old Music Minus One album tracks that I have or some Karoeke backing track... When it was done I had my vanity project completed and I called it Empty Orchestra (the Japanese translation of Karoeke). I offer it here for you to download and share if you like.

Oh, I took the album cover photo myself. I was coming home one night at 2 in the morning after seeing a band. These two poor souls were having a horrible time keeping the evenings festivities down... I thought it was a perfect image for this album of melancholy songs.
This was a moment from my Empty Orchestra record release party singing one of the songs with Jane Baxter Miller.


Monday, May 28, 2012

He Wears a Pair of Silver Wings
In the 1920s and 30s it was rare for a there to be a girl singer with a band; It was quite common for songs that were written for a woman to sing would sung by a man. The Columbia Art Deco series put out a CD of these type of songs called "Can't Help Lovin' That Man". The very idea of homosexuality was so far from the listening public's mind that no one questioned this practice. In transferring a few records this weekend, I came across this Kay Kyser song. By the mid-40s there is no reason I can think of for Harry Babbitt to sing this song that could have been sung by their girl singer, Ginny Simms.

In any case, it's a pretty song that just drips with male affection; And pre-dates 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' by about fifty years. It also reminded me of the book Affectionate Men. The photo above is from David Claudon's web-site.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Another year, another massive amount of transferring my record collection. This year for some reason I transferred a large number of vocal group and organ albums, plus quite a few albums that were made for small groups that played at nightclubs around town...

Some highlights from this compilation are: Art Newman, who runs the Night and Day TV Repair shop in Dayton Beach. In the 80's a friend of mine when to school at Avery Riddle and brought me back several of Art's homemade recordings. Arthur Newman would given them out whenever anyone got their TV or VCR fixed. I love his albums for their earnestness; The Irritants, singing Dead Rock Funeral, is off of an old cassette I had of some friends singing songs that either they or I recorded. I always thought this had the makings of a hit. It is definitely an earworm song.

I through a couple of my songs on here as well. Moon River is a discarded song from a project I worked on last year called Empty Orchestra. On the recording I sing along with either Music Minus One recordings or Karoeke tracks. After all the songs were done we through this one out because it just sounds too Karoeke and the other songs have a real band feel to them. Sunshine Day is also from those sessions; all the people involved with the recording participated in the song, Gary Ward, Brian McNally and his wife Gwen. Damn singing Cindy Brady's part was hard.

I've also put on a lost Bric-a-Brac song: Dreams of an Everyday Housewife.

The rest is a total mishmash. I tried to stick with my rules of only records or songs I transferred during the calendar year. But I think this came out o.k. I do have to say I compiled this with a new program and the levels are a little off... If I ever get around to fixing that I'll re-post it...

Happy New Year...!!!!

Stereo Balance

The Theme From S.W.A.T – Ray Conniff Singers

I Can See For Miles – Frankie Randall

We Can Work It Out – The Brothers Four

Steppin’ Stone – The Golden Gate Strings

Mountain Greenery - Frenchy Boutan

Happy Together – The 7th Sound

I Like How You Taste – Unknown

The Touch – Betty Johnson

Destination Moon – The Ames Bros

Life on Mars – The King Singers

Dead Rock Funeral – The Irritants

To Die in Summertime – Rod McKuen

The Impossible Dream – Liberace

Moon River – John S. Connors

A House is Not a Home – Art Newman

Going Out of My Head - Gene and Joey

Are You Lonesome Tonight – Bob Kames

Dreams of the Everyday Housewife – Bric-a-Brac

Feelings – Ford and Angel

Three O’Clock in the Morning – Wendy and Bonnie

Wonder Why – Joanna Gault

Where Does It Lead – The Little Sisters

Where Flamingos Fly - Linda Lawson

It’s Silk – India Adams

Sunshine Day – Empty Orchestra Singers

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road - 101 Strings Singers.