Tag Archives: music

The Blarg No. 63: On Songwriting

Have I ever mentioned that it’s really hard to keep a weekly show going? I know I complain a lot, and I’m sorry for that, but not really, but I am. Also, I never go back and re-read these, because, well, I write them, and then I send them, and any sort of re-visitation seems as though it would only be inviting unnecessary self-criticism, because once they’re out there, what is there really for me to do?

Where was I? Ah, yes, complaining.

It is difficult, though, keeping a weekly show on the rails. Especially when you’re doing everything yourself, and I’m not even doing everything myself—Janell takes care of the weekly graphics, but I do take care of the booking, the recording, the editing, the post-production, the social media marketing (as inept as I am at it), and when you combine that with other regular recording obligations, work, life… It quickly becomes not only overwhelming, but all consuming.

Anybody out there want to book a well-received, if little known, arts and culture podcast? That would just be freaking awesome.

All of the above brings us to this week’s show. Our first clip show! Let’s call it a theme show, though, because I hate the whole clip show concept.

Talking to musicians—songwriters in particular—is one of my favorite things to do, and Limited Engagement has afforded me the opportunity to take to some amazing talented practitioners of the art. This show features thoughts, experiences, and wisdom on the subject of writing songs from from Tindal, Robyn Hitchcock, The Haymarket Squares, Jon Rauhouse, Betsy Ganz of The SunPunchers, Scotty Spenner, and Lou Barlow. Hear the full conversations on Limited Engagement, iTunes, and a plethora of podcast dispensaries.

Listen to LE 63 – On Songwriting

Best,
Jared

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The Blarg No. 60: Lou Barlow

Talking Lou Barlow

Fall, such as it is in Phoenix, Arizona, appears to at last be upon us. Summer has finally taken the hint (about a month late) and buggered off to some more appropriate hemisphere. Unless it hasn’t, which it seems like could be the case—like that one friend who threatens to leave, not realizing that everyone wishes he’d left hours ago, but then pops back in to make one more point in an argument he’s already lost. We need the break, or at least I need the break. I need my cool down period, weather-wise, or it starts to seriously impact my ability to function as a pleasant human being, and it’s already a serious chore let me tell ya.

Since last we spoke, we’ve been to the Las Vegas Book Festival (kind of a bust for us) and PHX Zine Fest (a fantastic event where we met a lot of lovely individuals) in order to interact with the larger arts community and grow the audience for the show. This sort of self-promotion is not something that comes naturally to me. It involves a lot of repeating the same spiel, putting on a show of enthusiasm, and smiling. I’m a naturally cantankerous person, and left to my own devices I’d probably rarely leave the house, so dragging Public Jared out for long stretches of time is exhausting.

I don’t think I’ll ever enjoy Las Vegas. I’d never been, and I don’t think I have much interest in returning. I’m sure we were just in the wrong parts, and there are probably some lovely parts, people, etc., but then there’s also the 7-Eleven where the person with the dead-eyed stare is sitting in front of a slot machine in the middle of the night, pulling that lever like he can’t recall a time when he wasn’t pulling the lever. On some level, I know Vegas scares me a little because of my own compulsive tendencies. It doesn’t take much to imagine myself as the guy who can’t stop pulling the lever.

As I mentioned, I met some truly wonderful people at PHX Zine Fest, and some of them were kind enough to sit down with me for a few minutes and share their stories. Charissa Lucille (LE 57) organized a fantastic event, and Unexpected Gallery was a perfect venue for it. It was inspiring to see so many creative folks gathered together, committed to sharing their experiences and artistic vision. You can hear those stories in next week’s episode.

This week, I talk to a guy named Lou Barlow. You may know him as the bassist in Dinosaur Jr., but hopefully you really know him from Sebadoh, The Folk Implosion, and his solo work. Lou’s a unique, gifted songwriter and musician—one of my favorites actually, and it was a thrill to get a chance to talk to him. He wasn’t really promoting anything, so we just chatted about music—it was great. If you’re not familiar with Lou’s work, I recommend starting with Sebadoh’s Harmacy and his first solo album, EMOH. Also, pop on over to loobicore to learn more about the world of Lou.

Listen to LE 60 – Lou Barlow

Best,
Jared

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The Blarg No. 58: Tom Petty Tribute

No soapbox this week. Sorry, I know I’ve been up there a lot lately, and you know what they say of opinions and assholes and all that…

I go running every morning. It’s something I do. At this point, I’m not sure whether I enjoy it, or I’ve got a problem—there’s a very fine line. This isn’t about that, though. I have a regular path I run on every morning before work, one that I like because it’s a decent area, but also there’s not much traffic at 3:30 in the morning. Occasionally, there are other runners, people out walking the dog, but for the most part it’s dark, quiet, and cool (soon it will be cold, but that’s another matter). Nothing much happens, I just listen to a podcast and do my thing.

Which is why it was simultaneously jarring and slightly mystical when I happened upon a pack of coyotes slinking their way across Missouri Ave, just north of Central. There were three of them that I saw—two ahead of a third, who stood frozen. They didn’t make a move to approach me, and I was waiting to let them pass, but this last one seemed determined to see me go first—much to the apparent chagrin of the other two, whose attitude exuded an air of, “Come on, man, what the hell are you waiting for?”—so I carried on my way, and then they went theirs. That was it. It was Monday morning, October 2nd. Later that day, the news came down of Tom Petty’s death. I couldn’t help thinking that those coyotes were somehow connected.

It seems like we’ve lost an overwhelming amount of iconic musicians lately. This is bound to happen. Life is one long, inexorable march past the end of the cliff. Some people sprint ahead and skip to the end, impatient perhaps, and then others are propelled forward, or pulled forward maybe, taken when it seems they still have work to do, and it is no less tragic to lose those that wait out the plot. There’s always a little twinge of hurt, the sense of some string being cut, but there are a few where it feels as though you’ve lost a limb, the musicians whose songs have woven an inextricable sense-memory into the threads of our personal histories. Joe Strummer, The Go-Betweens’ Grant McLennan, and now, Tom Petty.

This week, Jason Woodbury and I sit and discuss what Tom Petty meant to us—the songs we love, the memories they’re linked to. It’s a personal appreciation, a tribute from two lifelong fans—a conversation that I think anyone who can remember where they were when they first played their Full Moon Fever cassette, or when they first saw The Heartbreakers descending the escalator in the “Free Fallin'” video with “all the vampires walking through the valley” can relate to and maybe take something from.

Best,
Jared Duran

Listen to LE 58 – Tom Petty Tribute

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The Blarg No. 55: Scotty Spenner

Once you get the ball rolling, it’s really hard to get it to stop. Not that I want it to stop—maybe just slow down for a little bit so I can take a nap. It seems to hold true, though, that it’s either deluge or drought, not much in between, and I’ll take the deluge any time. Hosting a weekly podcast, when the bank of recordings dries up and the bookings aren’t happening, things can get pretty harried, so I don’t feel like I can turn anything down. Then, on top of Limited Engagement, I’m doing the work to get a local podcast network off the ground, there’s a lot that goes into that, and it’s not like we’ve got a crew.

I don’t mean to complain. Like I said, though, a nap would be nice. I’m tired. It’s a good tired, but tired nonetheless. Hoot N Waddle is gathering momentum. You can already listen to the first show, Jessie Balli’s Chatterbox podcast, endearingly titled Chatterpod, and there’s much more to come—a lot of irons in the fire. Chatterpod also goes up weekly, so be sure to subscribe through Apple Podcasts (it will be up on other services like Stitcher and GooglePlay soon). There’s still a lot I can’t talk about until details are cemented, but the momentum is forward. Inexorable, but exciting.

Speaking of exciting, I was talking with Charissa Lucille of Wasted Ink Zine Distro (that conversation will go up in a couple of weeks), and I’m very excited to announce that we’ll be setup at this year’s PHX Zine Fest to document the experiences of anyone wanting to share them—vendors and attendees alike. Should be very cool.

On this week’s show, conversation and music with Arizona Blues Hall of Fame inductee Scotty Spenner. Our talk went all over the place, and I had a blast. You can catch Scotty playing with with True Flavor Blues every Sunday afternoon at Copper Star Coffee, or in Celtic rock band Saints of Eirinn. Friday night, September 29th, he’ll be playing a solo gig presented by Emancipation Arts at The Trunk Space. Listen to Scotty’s playing at the end of the show, and you’ll hear exactly why you should go.

Best,
Jared

Listen to LE 55 – Scotty Spenner

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The Blarg No. 54: The SunPunchers

Guys, things are stressful out there. Unless you’re in a coma—then you might be able to relax. Maybe not. I don’t know, I’ve never been in a coma. Perhaps being in a coma is very stressful. For those of us relegated to a life of horrifying consciousness, though, it’s a real shit show—especially if you are compassionate, or have something like a conscience. Whether it’s a natural disaster (which I firmly believe we are experiencing at a much higher rate due to all the man-induced damage, because science, and really, when it seems like each successive event is the worst of its kind, how can you argue against?), or the daily, often hourly what-the-fuck moments handed down from governments regional, national, and international, it seems impossible to complete one reflection on how to positively impact/change/resist one situation before being forced to react to the next.

How do you cope?

Sometimes, you have to shut the world off, or risk being overwhelmed. Sometimes, you need a little break. Sometimes, despite the heat, you need a warm blanket of an album to soothe your frayed and frazzled nerves. For me, one of those albums is Some Fantastic Place. Released by Squeeze in 1993 (nearly 25 years ago!), Some Fantastic Place came at a time in the band’s career where they were being largely ignored commercially, and only about five years out from calling it quits for a second time (the first being back in 1982—I could go on and on about this band if anyone’s curious…anyone?), which is a shame, because they were making some of the best music of their career, and SFP is often considered by fans (myself included) to be the third in a trio of albums (preceded by Frank (1989) and Play (1991)) that showcase the band at the height of their abilities both in the lyrics of Chris Difford and the music (and voice and guitar) of Glenn Tilbrook. The album that followed, Ridiculous (1995), is pretty good, though not as consistent in my opinion, and the last album of Squeeze’s second coming, Domino (1998), has some great moments, but is one I really only suggest to completists. If you’re still with me at this point, there is a third act to Squeeze, and the first album to come out of it, Cradle to the Grave (2015), is a very fine return (essentially a soundtrack to a TV show for the BBC that I have not seen, the album reminds me a lot of Kinks albums like Arthur or Lola Versus Powerman that had a very definite throughline—an almost Broadway musical-like quality), and their new album, The Knowledge, is due out this fall (if you couldn’t guess, I’m very excited).

Why am I going on and on about Squeeze right now? Especially recommending an album that came out roughly a quarter century ago? Do I need a reason? This is what I do in times of stress that isn’t drinking excessively (thankfully something I’ve managed to break the habit of), compulsive eating, or just checking out completely. We’ve got to stay engaged, and for me, this means taking a step back every once in awhile, listening to a favorite album, and trying to play along to and master Glenn Tilbrook’s riff on “Third Rail” (read: cursing and failing). What do you do? How do you manage? I’m genuinely curious.

This week’s Limited Engagement features four of the five members of The SunPunchers: Betsy Ganz, Jon Rauhouse, Serena Fonze, and Dominic Armstrong (Lindsay Cates was not in attendance). These four fantastic musicians crammed their gear into our front room, played two gorgeous songs (“Hold You Now” and “Sodium Pentothal Blues”), then sat and talked to me for about an hour or so. Have I ever mentioned how much I love having musicians on the show? If I haven’t, you should know that it is a tremendous amount. You can get The SunPuncher’s EP, Honey, on their website, and their first full length album, Levity (which is one of my favorite albums of 2017 thus far), is available on Bandcamp, or you can pick up a copy locally over at Stinkweeds.

Best,
Jared

Listen to LE 54 – The SunPunchers

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The Blarg No. 42: Mike Pfister

Behold! The forty-second edition of Limited Engagement. 42. The answer which, after seven and a half million years, the greatest computer ever built, Deep Thought, supplied as the ultimate answer to the great question of Life, the Universe, and Everything. That’s right, folks: I am a huge dork. I think that this has been well-established, though, and it shouldn’t come as a great shock to anyone.

We went and saw a little bit of the Emancipation Marathon over at the Phoenix Changing Hands location, and while we were only able to stay for about an hour or so, I’m glad we went. The event, which has taken place for twenty years, is run by Clottee Hammons (LE 40), and features community members reading work to commemorate the victims of American Chattel Slavery. It was great to see the inclusion of children among the readers at the event, as it will be up to them to carry on the legacy, and given Clotte’s work in educational outreach, I know this is no accident. Check out Clottee’s organization, Emancipation Arts, on Facebook, and please support her work.

This week, I talk to ASU professor and drummer extraordinaire, Mike Pfister. Mike was an early supporter of this show, originally as part of the audience, and then as an integral part of the live show, performing opening sets with PressPlay, and more recently the experimental jazz quartet, Klee. I’ve known Mike for years and have worked on a number of projects with him, but I found I didn’t know much about him personally, so I learned a lot through our conversation.

Best,

Jared

Listen to LE 42 – Mike Pfister

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This Week: Jon Rauhouse! Plus, We did it!

Well, we did it. It’s done. The Arg in Blarg: Limited Engagement, The First Two Years is in the can and off to the printer. Nothing to do now but wait. I hate waiting—gives me indigestion. I’m really proud of the finished product, which is due in large part, as is the case with most things, really, to Janell Hughes, who not only did the layout and design, but the lion’s share of the transcriptions as well, whilst I fretted over writing all the various bits and pieces connecting the damned thing together. I’m so glad it’s over. I did mention that I was proud of it right?

The Arg in Blarg features a section devoted to each episode from the first show with Bill Campana on May 20th, 2015, all the way through the 34th show with Sally K. Lehman and Jessica Standifird, which was posted just last week. There are also a few other odds and ends, including a gallery featuring all of the promotional flyers. The book is being published through Four Chambers Press, and we’re launching it at our second anniversary show on May 19th, please join us if you can. Failing that, the book will be available on our website. I’m looking to partner with a few local establishments as well. If you’re interested, hit me up.

On the show this week, we have local music legend Jon Rauhouse. Rauhouse came to prominence in the band Grievous Angels, has worked with Archers of Loaf frontman Eric Bachmann, Jakob Dylan, Kelly Hogan, Sally Timms, and many are no doubt familiar with Jon’s work as a part of Neko Case’s amazing band. We had a great conversation about the life of a professional musician, his work with Neko Case (who might be my favorite singer of all time), and his beautiful playing bookends the show. On May 20th, you can check out the Jon Rauhouse Combo at the Sun Punchers album release show at The Newton on May 20th at 7:30 pm.

Listen to LE 35 – Jon Rauhouse

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