Category Archives: stray dogs

Thank you, John

…for being a boss popcorn. Last week, we had an “incident” at the Jerving house in which Jerving-the-youngest accidentally knocked the Toneport USB interface off the desk, bringing a dance-infused session of recording “Starships” with her friend Nala to an abrupt end. John Peacock came to the rescue by letting me borrow his sturdy Tascam US-122: he says “indefinitely” — and now we have that in print — which means that, once again, I can shove all kinds of sounds into my computer.

I tested it our today — doesn’t yet work through the Ubuntu side of my computer, but it does on Windows. The following represents a good five minutes of work, using the Audacity sound editor to lay down three tracks of Fender Telecaster gold, un-amped and plugged in as is directly into the machine.

The sound isn’t actually terrible. The song is an instrumental version of John Papageorge’s Kissyfish classic, “Girlfriend,” from our Grownups Are People, Too tape.

John Papageorge, circa May, 1987, Madison, Wisconsin

(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding

The Generics, live at the Fairhaven Bowl in Mundelein, Illinois, summer of 1986. Raw suburban Chicago mid-80s power, undetectable Farfisa organ and all.

right click here to download mp3

Photograph by David Broustis, circa 1985

And the message is as timely as ever. That message being: “Enjoy the bass stylings of Pat Gamet.”

The Generics at the time of this recording were: R yan Jerving, guitar; Craig Witsoe, guitar; Nadine Engel (now Schneller), drums; John Papageorge, keyboards; Pat Gamet, bass; and Dean Samara, saxophone (though I think playing tambourine on this track). There’s a part near the beginning of the song on the original recording where the right channel dropped out for about 30 seconds, which I’ve only had partial success in covering by patching the left channel on top of it. You’ll hear the difference when the right comes back in at 0:53 . Try not to let it spoil your peace, your love, or your understanding.

The Fairhaven Bowl still stands: join a league today.

Love Song of Kalua

Here’s a newly digitized live recording of the Viper and His Famous Orchestra performing the “Love Song of Kalua” at the Red Herring Channing-Murray Foundation in Urbana, Illinois, in July 2000, shortly before I moved to Turkey.


click here to download the mp3

This is a much-recorded Hawaiian “standard” written by Ken Darby in 1954. Our version is based on the Marty Robbins version. Listen for my lapse into the Dick Van Dyke Show theme during my whistling solo.

The recording was made by our friend Brad Allen on a tiny little portable tape recorder, the kind you use to record lectures. Not bad quality, considering.

Seaside Rendezvous

What the title of this post says: a dig back into the archives for this recording of The Viper and His Famous Orchestra from the Highdive in Champaign, IL in the year 2000.

(click here to download the mp3)

The song is by Queen and I’m pretty certain that May, Mercury et. al. must have had the Viper in mind when they were writing it for their Night at the Opera album. A Night at the Opera is actually a pretty Viper-friendly album all around, with Brian May even playing a ukulele for the George-Formby-styled “Good Company.” I remember “Seaside Rendezvous” being me and my sister’s favorite song on the record as kids, and dancing around and playing it over and over (along with “Bohemian Rhapsody,” of course) when one of our babysitters would bring it over.

The Viper and His Famous Orchestra recording above is from the same show at which the bulk of our Song for All Seasons material was recorded. “Seaside Rendezvous” didn’t make the cut, and I remember it sounding a lot rougher when we were choosing what songs we wanted to include on that EP. But if you can overlook the lack of mastering the mix, I think the performance has worn pretty well with age. There’s a LOT of arranging going on here, with a LOT for a bar band near the end of an evening to remember.

But remember it we do, and that’s a jollification, as a matter of fact.

When the Viper up and leaves

I’m finally getting around to chopping and screwing some material I recorded on December 12, 2008 in the cabana behind Mike Paul’s house in preparation for a show The Viper with playing with the Paint Branch Ramblers at the Home Grown Coffee House in Accokeek, Maryland later that evening. I also recorded the show. But in a misguided bit of engineering, I pointed the microphone directly at the ceiling and, so, captured a lot of crowd murmuring and vocal reverb and not much else.

In any case, here’s a rehearsal track of my opening song from that set, “The Viper’s Blue Yodel no. 6.02 x 10 to the 23rd” or “A Mole of the Blues”:

(click here to download the mp3)

This is recorded live straight into Audacity using a single microphone for both the vocals and the baritone ukulele.

I’ve been doing versions of this since as early as 1997 or 1998. But in its finished form, I performed first at this same Home Grown Coffee House venue in February of 2007. At that point, my talk of leaving Maryland for Wisconsin and the danger of adjustable rate mortgages was purely speculative. But before all things must pass, all things must also come to pass. And that was the case by December 2008 when this song served as an actual goodbye to living south of the Mason-Dixon line.