New music I am enjoying

I went to Record Store Day this past Saturday to support Boo Boo records, our local independent record store. It is still there despite the changes in the industry and I hope Boo Boos is there for as long as I am here. I once read a list in Outside Magazine of the things that make a town great. A local, independent record store is one of those things. What in the world does everyone else do now? If I live elsewhere, I guess my choices are either Wal-Mart or iTunes. As a music lover, that is totally depressing. It’s like being a coffee lover and living in North Dakota with nothing but watery truckstop coffee for miles.

I still get an immense amount of pleasure out of buying the occasional CD. And I still buy a lot of things without having listened to them first. Sometimes I strike out but I have been getting some good ones lately. Here are a few:

The Louvin Brothers. Satan is Real. This is an awesome album cover, and the story of the Louvin Borhters is great. They are old school gospel singers with amazing harmonies. Great for a Sunday morning for ironic, non-churchgoing types.

Ryan Adams. Ashes and Fire. Click on the link and you will see that Pitchfork gave it a less than stellar review. OK, so it can be a bit maudlin at times. But Ryan Adams writes great songs and his voice is emotive and fantastic. This set of songs is very mellow and seems to catch him at a moment when life is pretty good, although there is quite a lot of melancholy dripping off of this album. Quiet and beautiful.

Fruit Bats. Tripper. This was recommended to me by a sales clerk and I love it. Another mediocre Pitchfork review, but as far as I am concerned Pitchfork and I have different musical tastes. They go apeshit for hip-hop and I am not all that into it. I go apeshit for Fruit Bats and they are not all that into it.


I have an amazing new guitar!

My new Boswell Guitar being drilled into by the Luthier himself.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, you heard right. I am the proud owner of a Boswell dreadnaught acoustic guitar. Brazilian rosewood (sapwood) back and sides and an Adirondack spruce top. This guitar is only the fourth that has ever been made by my friend and master luthier Butch Boswell. It may sound like an oxymoron to call someone a master luthier who has only made a handful of guitars, but alas, it is true.

Butch told me last year that he would be making his first 7 guitars over the course of the next year and asked if I would like to buy one. The price was unfathomably high for someone like me who has always gotten by with relatively cheap instruments. The nicest guitar I have ever had is a $700 Martin DM that I bought 13 years ago. It was a huge splurge at the time and it changed my life. It was the catalyst that got me seriously committed to songwriting and recording, and it made me realize that (relatively) nice instruments are worth it. It has been an amazing guitar and I was not in the market for another. But once he offered one to me, there was something about getting one of Butch’s guitars that I could not pass up. After all, I figured that I might one day get a nicer acoustic and it would likely be a Santa Cruz or a Martin. But I don’t know the people who make those guitars. There would have been no connection. I know Butch. I see him all the time and I know his wife and kids and I know his dedication to his craft and I know he is super meticulous and anal, which is what you want your luthier to be. So last year I gave Butch a down payment and prayed that I might be able to come up with the rest of the cash.

As of last week I had gotten Butch a percentage of what I owed him, but I still owed a lot. However, he knew I had a gig that weekend and the guitar was finished and was just hanging there in his shop, so he told me to come and get it. And suddenly I was terrified. It was time.

I can try to justify the expense until the cows come home. But in the end, the bottom line is that it is just an amazing, beautiful instrument crafted by my friend and I feel very fortunate to be able to have it. It sounds amazing, it plays amazing, and it looks amazing. I will grow old with this guitar. We will age together. My Martin is looking beautifully warn after 13 years of steady playing, and I cannot wait to see how my Boswell ages. As of this writing I am finally a majority owner in the guitar. I only owe 30% and I think I will be able to get him the rest of the money this week, at which point it will be ALL MINE! ALL MINE!! HA HA HA HA!!.

I once heard Robert Earl Keen say the best thing about having several guitars is that there are different songs locked inside of all of them. That stuck with me because I am constantly mining for songs and it gives me immense pleasure to create new ones. My Martin has been a treasure trove of songs. My cheap Recording King has been a wonderful guitar and has given me some great songs. I bought a Yamaha awhile back on Craigslist and she and I never grooved too well, so she is being sold today at a garage sale and will hopefully end up in the hands of the right person. I could never keep that thing in tune. As for the Boswell, she has been put through the paces. She stays in tune. She is sturdy. She plays like butter. She is gorgeous. She is truly one of a kind.

Stay tuned for more pictures and hopefully some new songs.

I am playing a show on Friday the 13th.

Friday, April 13th, 2012. The Wine Shed.

3590 Broad Street, San Luis Obispo, CA. 8:00 to 10:30 PM. Derek solo acoustic.
The Wine Shed is a cool new bar located between Cole Motors and Black Horse Espresso. They specialize in wine on tap and 22 oz. bottles of beer. Basically, a great booze selection and all my songs to keep you company. If you are coming from downtown SLO, the best way to get there is by bike. Take the Jennifer Street Bridge, then get on the bike path to Orcutt Road. Then hop on the Sacramento Drive bike lane until you get to Broad Street Village. Ride through the village and then cross the bridge to get to the Wine Shed.

Listen to my new song

OK, so last night I did a rough demo on Garage Band of the song I wrote this past weekend. Here it is! Lyrics are below.

She brings home the bacon
She pays all the bills
I eat all the bacon
I eat all the pills
She does all the cooking
She does all the chores
I’m known for my past athleticism
And my generous pours
And she could definitely do a lot better than me
Thank you insecurity
I do all the shouting
I throw all the plates
She does all the crying
The make up sex is great
She works her friggin’ tail off
Her kid’s a goddamn saint
Except when he’s alone with me
Thats the only time he ain’t
And she could definitely do a lot better than me
Thank you insecurity
And i follow all those columns of advice
I’m pretty sure I’ve been featured at least once or twice
And they tell her
she could definitely do a lot better than me
Thank you insecurity.

A weekend at the beach and a new song!

Melanie and Charlie. Cayucos 3-31-12

My dad and stepmom are on a pilgrimage to Texas to pick up a travel trailer, so we were the beneficiaries of an empty beach house this past weekend. And what a weekend it was. A storm moved in on Saturday and we got a front row seat. Then, on Sunday we awoke to offshore winds, sunny skies, and the biggest waves I have seen in a long time. In short, mother nature put on quite a show for us.

The good thing about going to the beach is that I focus on the essentials: Guitar, book, kite, beer. Nice and simple. So Saturday was a bit of all of those things, along with some basketball watching and some playing in the sand with the kids. I spent some time on Friday night working on a song that I have been messing around with for a couple weeks, but I was getting bored with it after so much tinkering. Then, on Saturday night, I sat down to free write some new ideas and voila, a new song came to me. I wrote in in about 5 minutes. I added a bit to it this morning and it is basically complete. Hallelujah! I have been struggling a lot lately with songwriting in that nothing has come easy and then when you least expect it it just happens and a song spills out of you like projectile vomit. It has been a good reminder. I was in the wilderness for awhile and was not dedicating myself to writing. But then I got back into it and have tried to be more consistent. And writing begets writing and writing songs begets writing more songs. And songs are my lifeblood. I have a new commitment and dedication to my craft.

I have to give a little bit of credit to Todd Snider. It was inspiring to see him this week and he is such a good writer. When I sat down to free write on Saturday he was on my mind and I used a couple of his songs for prompts. So thank you Todd Snider for doing your part. And thank you Cayucos beach house and mother nature for the inspiration you provided, and thank you beer.

My new song is called Thank You Insecurity. I’ll post a demo when I get around to it.