This blog is the outgrowth of a songwriting workshop I conducted at the 2006 "Moograss" Bluegrass Festival in Tillamook, Oregon. It presumes that after 30-odd years of writing and playing music, I might have something to contribute that others might take advantage of. If not, it may be at least a record of an entertaining journey, and a list of mistakes others may be able to avoid repeating. This blog is intended to be updated weekly. In addition to discussions about WRITING, it will discuss PROMOTION--perhaps the biggest challenge for a writer today--as well as provide UPDATES on continuing PROJECTS, dates and venues for CONCERTS as they happen, how and where to get THE LATEST CD, the LINKS to sites where LATEST SONGS are posted, and a way to E-MAIL ME if you've a mind to. Not all these features will show up right away. Like songwriting itself, this is a work in progress. What isn't here now will be here eventually. Thank you for your interest and your support.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


UPDATES: I posted “You Could Be The One,” the T-Poe poem I set to music, on my MySpace page (T-Poe hasn’t put it on his). One last room in the Squirrel House (what was my bedroom while I was there) to sweep and vacuum, window to fix in the shed out back, and the lawn to mow (still haven’t done that), and I’m done. Time to move back to Garibaldi, wait for my retirement check to arrive from AIG, and register for college if there’s still time. (There should be.)

“Alice” the computer is already back in Garibaldi, as are the guitars and banjo; I’ll be away for a couple of days while I’m moving the remainder of the belongings. Some more jobs to apply for when I get back to Garibaldi. I haven’t decided whether the studio should stay in the garage, or go up on the second floor of the house, where the computer room is. Winter is coming on, and the garage is uninsulated.

The Harvest Festival gig will happen—SATURDAY, 11 OCTOBER, at NOON. I’ll finally get to send another gig notice out to the “joelist” (I wonder if they remember me?) and to the “friends” on MySpace. Setlist to work out—I’ll be playing solo, will have an hour (12 to 13 songs), and it’ll be a family crowd, with a lot of kids. The Harvest Festival is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Neskowin Valley School, which is a little private school in way-south Tillamook County. This will be the third time I’ve performed there (and the first time in two years).

NEW MATERIAL: Did music for another Gospel song, this one by a Regina Michelle, whom I ran across on the Muse’s Muse writers’ site. The song is overtly religious, but was okay to work with—it comes across like one of the old Holy Roller “shouters,” and was a lot of fun to do. And she said she used to be a singer; maybe she can sing it if I send her just the music. At this point, she has a draft, with me singing, which she said she liked (and reportedly posted on her MySpace page).

And I have another song of mine I’m working on, too. Madonna’s announcement recently that she was adopting an African baby (because it was “trendy”) prompted the question, “But what about all the poor Roumanian vampire babies?” Those poor unfortunates will at least get a song, exhorting people to adopt them, too. It might be a good Norwegian Black/Death Metal tune, because of the vampire theme, but I think it’ll be folk-rock instead—I hear that Southern Pigfish singer’s Dylan voice singing this. I guess Southern Pigfish will finally get their Soundclick page (I did promise I’d do that once I’d written them three songs)—maybe a MySpace page, too (I’ll need more photos for a good MySpace presence, though.)

So just a little good news. Besides getting the Harvest Festival gig, somebody I applied for a job with complimented me on my city-manager qualifications (of course, they haven’t hired me yet); somebody in the audience at the Friday Night Group complimented me on my singing (with my voice?); even had a minister say he liked my album (and that’s the one with “Bungee Jumpin’ Jesus” and “Can I Have Your Car When the Rapture Comes?”). That’s probably enough “uppers” at one time—if I were too unstressed, it’d affect my ability as a writer, and I wouldn’t want that.

Not a lot of feedback on the publishing co-operative idea, so maybe it’s not worth pursuing. What I should do instead is simply form my own publishing company, document the process well, and then just tell everybody, “Guys, you can do this, too.” WHO does it is unimportant. What’s important is that there be a way to get creativity to market apart from the stranglehold of the commerial music industry, and that people are aware of it so they can take advantage of it. The answer to the first question is “Yes, there is,” and the answer to the second is “I’m working on it.”


Monday, September 22, 2008


UPDATES FIRST, again. No word from the Harvest Festival—I assume that means “no.” Maybe if I want to be involved as a performer, I need to be involved in the future in helping book the entertainment. (That would be fun, anyway.) All that stuff is done by volunteers, after all.

No word, either, from the Penguins band about whether they’re interested in performing “You Could Be The One,” the poem of T-Poe’s I set to music. That may not happen, either. “Distraction” (Diane Ewing) and “Rotten Candy” (me) are at least recorded, and there is a little serious discussion going on on Whitby Shores about the publishing co-operative idea.

NEW SONG (finally). I was procrastinating about mowing the lawn (procrastination is not a growth inhibitor, alas) and wondering how to make it more motivational. Guys like to feel what they’re doing is important, whatever it is, and that prompted couching the lawn-mowing exercise as a medieval-style crusade, defending the fortress (and the princess, of course) against Evil Forces. “Doing Battle with the Lawn” isn’t a bad song, but it still hasn’t motivated me to mow the lawn.

Biggest challenge was keeping it from sounding like another famous country song I’d had running through my head, “Pick Me Up On Your Way Down,” but I changed the rhyming scheme slightly, and I think that took care of it. Recorded it mostly in two takes; now it’s posted, with the promotional announcements in the usual places, and we’ll see if anyone likes it. I still haven’t mowed the lawn.

PUBLISHING: Here’s a potential model for the Publishing Co-operative. In southern Oregon, the Grange owns and operates a chain of hardware stores. Presumably, the members of the Grange shared the upfront costs in creating that business; now that it’s in business, when you go to the hardware store, you pay for what you use. Prices are pretty good, because the Grange is a nonprofit. The markup on what you buy at their hardware store goes first to pay operating expenses, and then presumably if there’s anything left (and there may not be) it goes to the membership. When I joined the Grange back in the 1980s, my dues were (theoretically) my share of all the investments the organization had made over the previous 110 years.

What are the startup costs for the Publishing Co-operative? Not much different from Outside Services Ltd.’s, I think: registration with BMI or ASCAP, plus any performing rights organizations in any countries outside the U.S. we wanted to do business in; registration with the Harry Fox Agency for mechanical rights; a Website; and a business license wherever the “company” headquarters was. Incorporation costs, too, and state registration—wouldn’t want the members liable for debts of the organization, if there were any. A few hundred to a couple thousand dollars in all, maybe—split among the “members” who originally put it together.

And then? I think the co-op maintains a Resource Base and a Knowledge Base. The latter is free; the former is on a pay-for-what-you-use basis. It’s a lot like the Grange hardware store, again—if you need plumbing advice, there’s somebody who can help you, and it doesn’t cost you a dime. If you need plumbing parts, you pay for them.

Need to copyright a song? Forms and instructions are on the Website. Want to pitch a song? The Contact List is there, too, along with input from people about what worked and what didn’t, and maybe why. (That, I think, would be the most valuable information we all could have.) All that is free because any costs you incur in using the information are your costs. All the organization did was make information available.

On the services end, I think one of the biggest services the organization could provide is cheap demos. A lot of people spend a lot of money having recordings made to pitch their songs—and to the extent the resources were available in the membership, it could be a lot cheaper. Consider: if we’ve got a guy or girl with studio equipment and the ability to use it (and they might not even be in the business, or might be small-timers wanting to make a name for themselves), it’s possible to assemble the parts for a recording—a bass player from one location, a drummer from another, a female vocalist from a third, and so on—and have them send their pieces as *.wav files to the studio person, who’d mix them. I’ve done collaborations that way, with musicians from all over the globe.

Of course, you’d pay for it—like the Bible says, “the laborer is wirth his hire”—but it wouldn’t cost much. Everybody involved would be getting exposure for what they can do, and that’s worth something, too. And you could do whole albums that way, not just demos. So the cost of being your own record company wouldn’t be as daunting as it is now.

Before the idea gells too much (I can obsess about good ideas), I’d need to find out if other people would be interested—and how many. I still need to form my own publishing company, because I’ve got an album to do, but maybe it can be a business model for someone else. Even the co-op.


Friday, September 19, 2008


QUICK UPDATES: No on the Falls City job—at least, not right away—so I’m moving back to Garibaldi as soon as the Squirrel House is done (a few more days). Collapse of the mega-insurance company AIG took one of my retirement funds with it—the one I was going to tap for college tuition; yes, the Federal Reserve is bailing them out, but I still don’t (and probably can’t) have my money. Having the new kitchen faucet in the Squirrel House spring a leak was just adding insult to injury.

No word from the Harvest Festival. Since that’s coming up fast, I assume they don’t want me. I’ll send one more e-mail and then drop it. (It would be nice to know why they don’t want me. I’m not used to being rejected as a performer.)

PROJECTS: There are quite a few, actually, because I keep adding more in an attempt to feel creative. A poet I know in southern Oregon (he’s very good, probably the best poet I know) wrote a new piece that just sang when I read it, so I offered to set it to music. I’ve got two songs to re-record, “Rotten Candy” (me) and “Distraction” (Diane Ewing), that I want to pitch to a girl artist looking for uptempo country songs; the songs need to be speeded up a bit (they could use it) and get that “trademark” Southern Pigfish bass. Four songs by other people to do music for; it’s probably good that I’ve gotten able to do these mostly in one take.

And all the publicity over Madonna adopting an African baby because it was “trendy” prompted the question, “But who’s adopting the starving Roumanian vampire babies?” That’s probably fodder for another Norwegian Black/Death Metal song—it’s got vampires in it, after all—once I do another long drive in the car. The price of gas and the shortage of money are going to limit long drives for a while, though.

WHITBY SHORES FORUM: I got given my own “forum” on the Whitby Shores Website, which I suggested we use to talk about publishing, since people had questions about it some weeks back. Right now, we’re just doing a bunch of free-ranging questions and answers, but it’s generating a fair amount of activiity, which I’m sure Len Amsterdam, the Canadian DJ who started Whitby Shores, appreciates. It’s hard starting up a new Website, particularly one that’s trying to be a haven for musicians without all the “social networking” garbage that comes with MySpace. You need activity to hold their attention. For my part, I just want to get all these people talking to each other, and then hopefully working together. These musicians, for the most part, are capable of being a much greater “whole” than they could ever be separately.

Another item to add to the project list—it’s time, I think, for Danny the dog to do another radio interview, and he should interview Len Amsterdam this time. The “Danny innerviews” try to focus on people who are doing cutting-edge stuff in the music field, as independent artists and writers attempt to use 21st-century technology to carve themselves out a niche in an appallingly concentrated (and generally unfriendly) industry. And Len’s been one of the leaders in that effort. I’ve asked around for ideas for questions to ask Len, but got virtually no response; Danny and I will have to think of stuff on “our” own.

PUBLISHING CLASS: And in my spare time (yeah, right), I’ve been working off and on on a “syllabus” for the Publishing 101 class. My first “lecture” was likening what a publisher does to what a real estate agent does (I was one of those once, too)—they’re both marketing a property, and absorbing all the marketing costs themselves, in the expectation of a percentage later, when it sells. Publishers are forced, I think, to be so selective because the “pool” of available properties is so mind-numbingly large, and the market buying them is so small and so concentrated. (It may be enough to simply say that.)

That’s why I suggested the idea of ignoring the big Boys and pitching instead to the regionally famous instead; there are more of them, they’re easier to reach, and they don’t have what Joni Mitchell called “the star-maker machinery” generating material for them. I’m not sure anybody’s writing for those folks, and maybe somebody should.

Of course, I can do this with my stuff—I’m the author, and the publisher, and I can do anything I want. And of course I’ll be paying the upfront costs of marketing my stuff, because it’s my stuff; if I want to know who’s paying for it, I just have to look in the mirror. Marketing other people’s material may be a stretch, because I don’t have the resources to absorb the upfront costs, and I can’t ask the authors to cover those costs because legitimate publishers don’t do that—only the “song sharks” do.

Maybe a publishing co-operative—or something that looks and acts like a co-operative—is the way to go for those folks. There is an historical precedent. Back in the 1870s, a bunch of farmers in the Midwest, convinced they were being screwed by the Big Corporations of the day, organized a bunch of co-operatives to provide services to themselves on a non-profit basis that they didn’t want to pay the people they were convinced were screwing them to do. Insurance, for instance, and grain elevators and scales. A lot of those were done under the “umbrella” of the Grange, the lobbying group they formed to fight for the rights of farmers.

Is it time for history to repeat itself?


Saturday, September 13, 2008


HARVEST FESTIVAL: Annual fund-raiser for the little Neskowin Valley School in southern Tillamook County. I’ve played there twice before, but not last year—I found out that was because the school clerk (a fan) no longer worked there. If I do get to perform at this, it’ll be the only piece of “traditional” Concert Season I do this year—and I’m only able to do it because it’s so close to home in Garibaldi. I did locate the person responsible for booking their entertainment, but she hasn’t contacted me back, so maybe she’s not interested. I don’t have the “street team” to contact the school on my behalf and badger them to hire me, so I’m at the mercy of whatever happens.

JOB & SCHOOL: Falls City apparently wants me to be their city manager; they’ve said they want me to start in two weeks, and I reminded them we haven’t agreed on a salary yet. (Yes, that is a little backwards.) If I’m employed, I’ll be a part-time college student instead of a full-time one—I’d been waiting to find that out. It also means I’ll be using my own money to pay for school—student loans are available only to full-timers. The old bank account is headed for zero yet another time.

COLLABORATIONS: For a couple of weeks, I haven’t written any new songs. (I also haven’t taken any long drives in the car. There is definitely a connection.) I have, however, had the chance to put music to other folks’ lyrics—one of the things I do to keep feeling creative when I’m not doing much stuff of my own. And I have had very good lyrics to work with.

My most recent “find” was a kid (he’s 35, actually) from Norway--I don’t even know his real name yet. I ran into one of his lyrics on Songstuff, the British writers’ site, critiqued it, suggested some changes, and asked if I could put it to music. He liked the changes, and agreed. (And he liked the music when it was done, too.) “Simple Questions” is a slightly atypical boy-can’t-get-up-the-courage-to-talk-to-a-girl song, with a brilliant chorus. To avoid the music sounding too close to something I’d done before, I changed the key, so I’d be forced to strum it differently. Gave it a sort of Buddy Holly feel, and I added more-electric-sounding-than-usual leads to reinforce it. With some percussion, this could easily be another Southern Pigfish cut. (Of course, then I’d have to build Pigfish their own Soundclick page, ‘cause I promised I’d do that once I’d given them three songs.)

I count 15 songs now where I’ve done music to somebody else’s lyrics. I only count the ones where both I and they were happy with the result; if one of us wasn’t, it’s not on the list. That’s enough for an album, but there’s no central theme—the songs are all too different. (Rev. Skip Johnson’s “Tune the Strings of My Soul” and Bill Osofsky’s “Sheep Are Real Good, Too” on the same record? I don’t think so.)

I would like to do something for those folks, though; these days, there’s no way for a lyricist-only to break into the music business, because there isn’t a mechanism any more for pairing lyricists up with composers. (Years ago, that was one of the things music publishers did.)

At least in these cases, I’ve provided myself as the “composer” part of the equation—but now something ought to be done with the songs. It accomplishes nothing to have something pretty just sitting on a shelf. I can at least get them professionally demoed. I got five of the 15 demoed at Pineyfest, two years ago, and should probably do the rest next year. That’ll at least give those lyricists something they can shop around—me, too, if I can figure out a way to do it.

An idea in that regard. What if one ignored Nashville (and New York, and L.A.) entirely—those folks don’t want anybody new let in, and have the muscle to enforce it—and tried to tap a market of guys and gals and bands that were regionally, rather than nationally, famous? People who are in the same position the Dodson Drifters were, 25 years ago, with records for sale, and being played on the radio, and performing regularly, and making pretty good money? Couldn’t those folks use some good new material? They might be smaller potatoes in the musical vegetable garden, but they’re likely to be a lot easier to (shall we say) harvest. They don’t have the big Nashville (&c.) machine generating material for them, either. Another job for Joe Publisher, maybe.


Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Things for the Publishing Company:

Register with BMI ($150)—also register as a writer, which is free. I qualify now, because I’ve had a song published (in the Philippines, but it still counts).

Sign up with the Harry Fox Agency, so they can collect royalties when somebody else records one of my songs (or anybody’s songs that are in the Catalog).

Copyright all the songs (yes, I know—should’ve done that earlier). Really, nobody worries about that part until it’s time to pay royalties; at that point, it’s got to be copyrighted, so people know whom to pay royalties to.

Last is just a housekeeping thing—local business license in whatever town I’m living in. Just lets people know I’m there, and what I do. I can join the local chamber of commerce, help sponsor stuff—just basically get my name out in front of people.

The company already exists. Outside Services Ltd. (the logo is an outhouse) was my graphic-design business, 20 years ago; after I became a city manager, it morphed into a “pocket” consulting firm, that I primarily used for pro bono work. I don’t know if BMI will let me use the name; I doubt it’s taken, but they make you supply three names for your publishing company, and they pick one.

Can I do real publishing work? Not really; for that, you need Contacts In The Industry, and I have very few of those. (And I’m not in Nashville, New York, or L.A., where most of those Contacts are.) Over time, maybe with annual trips to Nashville, I might develop some, but that’s probably a long and tough process. I’m banging at the gates of a fortress that appears very protective of its own territory, and very much disinclined to welcome any outsiders in.

So what good is it? For my material, it’s just a convenient “box” to keep it in that says I know what I’m doing. If any of my songs are going to be played on commercial radio (not Internet “radio,” where most of the little guys don’t worry about such niceties), I have to have this—the station has to pay royalties, and even though I may never see a penny because of the way BMI calculates things, I have to be on the list of people royalties are supposed to be paid to, or the station can’t use my material. And I want my stuff played.

In the same vein, if anything I wrote is going to be recorded by someone else on a record they’re going to sell (and ideally, make lots of money off of), something has to say where my little piece of that money gets sent. (That may never happen, of course. But it’s like buying insurance—if it does happen, you’re covered. What’s that worth?)

Of course, if any Big Boys ever became interested in any of my material, odds are a real music publisher would be wanting publishing rights in exchange for their marketing work (that’s how they make their money)—and therefore, Outside Services Ltd. would be prepared at the drop of a hat to assign publishing rights (that’s how it works) if it looked like a good deal.

So where do other people come in? There is one other person at this point; Skip Johnson, who wrote one of the songs that’ll be on the New CD, wants me to handle the publishing stuff, so we’ll sign a contract (modeled after that one I got from the Philippines, but more favorable to the writer) that includes that willingness to assign publishing rights. Then Skip’s song will be in the same “box” mine are, just in case something happens that makes money.

(And actually, a little money will change hands. When my record company (also Outside Services Ltd.—might as well keep everything under one roof) has the CDs manufactured, it’ll be sending a check to (I think) Harry Fox Agency for a “mechanical license” on every song on every CD made (not every one sold). Outside Services will get a check—I’m not sure if it’s from Harry Fox or BMI—and will send a piece of that money to Skip, and a piece to me, since I wrote the rest of the songs on the CD. I think that’s how it works.)

Would it work for others? Sure. Some of the stuff I’ve done music for would qualify (I do tend to do music for very good lyrics). Both I and they would want to be selective, though—not everything needs to go in the publishing box. One doesn’t buy flood insurance in the desert, in other words. Some songs just aren’t marketable, and others appeal to a very small niche market (and in the latter case, one wouldn’t want to do publishing unless it looked like there was an opening in the niche). But if it looks like it might get played on commercial radio, or somebody wants to record it and make money, yep, you could use the insurance.

And that’s one reason I’ll be hanging out an “I’m a music publisher” shingle. I get the impression a lot of people don’t have any idea how the music business works, and that’s one reason they don’t get to break in, even on the fringes. I’m slowly learning a little bit. And maybe I can help.


Sunday, September 7, 2008


Now I get to fantasize about living in Falls City. Got alerted the Mayor was going to be calling me about the city manager job—and they don’t usually bother to call you to tell you “no.” Falls City lies at the end of a dead-end county road in Oregon’s Coast Range. There’s a waterfall there, river running through the middle of town, one grocery store, a couple of taverns, nice City library; nice park on the river, closest gas station is 9 miles away in Dallas. 945 people; not much money. (That’s why people hire me—I fix financial problems. It’s what I do.)

There is reportedly a country jam session in Dallas—I’m not sure how frequently—and I know two musicians (one a fellow songwriter) in Salem, 30 miles away (and they don’t know each other, and ought to get introduced). There’s a songwriters’ association in Eugene (80 miles) that gets together monthly to critique each other’s stuff; I don’t know if they do performances. I had told the Falls City Council I wouldn’t bother them about my music, but would be available to do free entertainment for a local festival if they wanted; it appears they don’t have any local festival, and would like one.

UPDATES: Marge McKinnis and I didn’t win the Goodnight Kiss Music contest (only the top 2 got on the record, and “So Far” came in at #28); hopefully, the score was high enough so that somebody will remember us later on. Finished music for Beth Williams’ song “Cast Away,” with an electric banjo lead, and it appears people like it—they’re calling us “the Beth and Joe Show,” which I guess is pretty good for only three songs. (And I have two more Beth songs to record.)

Got to play with the Friday Night Group—my first opportunity to play guitar at any length since I injured my wrist last week—and that was good, too. They got two of the new songs, “When They Die, I Put Them in the Cookies” and “Dead Fishes.” There were the usual “Eww, gross!” comments on the cookies song, but people were singing along—and I noticed feet tapping to “Dead Fishes” despite the serious (and out of character) sentiments. Both are probably keepers; the cookies song is definitely fodder for the next album

“DEAD FISHES”: Not sure what to do about “Dead Fishes.” It could go on an album, sure, even though it’s different material from what I usually do—but it seems like I should be doing more with it. It’s a protest song, of sorts, and protest songs don’t just get recorded, they get sung, by lots of people in lots of places.

How does one accomplish something like that? Well, I do know a couple of music publishers, but they don’t accept unsolicited material, so I can’t just send it to them. A music library—the place filmmakers go when they want music for a movie or TV show—would be the most likely people to buy it (license it, actually), but I don’t know how to reach those guys. (The lesson there is I probably better learn how. Film is the best outlet these days for independent writers; filmmakers, for the most part, reportedly don’t or won’t deal with the big record companies—and the big record companies, for their part, ignore independent writers.)

The best I may be able to hope for it is some exposure, without any money attached. That would be okay—exposure, to somebody who’s “on the make,” is valuable in itself.

Googling “anti-pollution organizations” returned 51,600 hits. Weeding out the “professional greenies”—the people who sue just to generate income for themselves, or lobby Congress just to control things (I ran across a lot of “environmentalists” of both types when I worked in Washington, D.C.)—one is left with a still respectable number of mostly small, mostly local groups, seriously trying to do something about a local pollution problem. I guess they all need to get an e-mail (1) telling ‘em what I’ve got, (2) asking whether they might have a use for it, and (3) emphasizing I’m not asking for money, just credit as the author if they use it. And see what happens.

Mechanically, it’s doable—same technology that produced the “joelist.” It just takes a little time.


Monday, September 1, 2008


Like Bilbo Baggins said, “Well, I’m back.”

Southern Oregon was fun. Got to see a lot of the people I’ve missed over the last two months (if not all of them), and got to play music. My idea of a holiday.

The Saturday night show in Central Point’s Robert Pfaff Park was in competition with a Willie Nelson concert; we didn’t have a big crowd, but some people actually opted to see us instead of Willie Nelson, and that was a nice compliment. People liked the programs I designed, and I emphasized again this is easy stuff for me to do. The Central Point audience got two new songs (out of five songs we performed)—“When They Die, I Put Them in the Cookies” and “Dead Fishes.” I think more people liked the cookies than the fishes; my audiences really don’t expect serious stuff.

Sunday night was the Wild Goose, and the chance to see (and play for) more people. They got some of the sleazier new material—“Electronic Love” (definitely a hit), “Something’s Missing” (too long, I think), and the cookies (unquestionably best of the three), plus an encore (since Hank Williams’ birthday is in September, they got “Hank’s Song”—and people sang along, like they did last time). Stayed late to play lead on a couple of Scott Garriott tunes—something else I haven’t been able to do in a long time.

So what did we accomplish this weekend? Maybe not a lot besides having fun—a bunch of people know I haven’t forgotten them, still miss them, and know I’d like to figure out a way to come back there to live. (And they may now be prompted to think of me when they next eat, see, or hear about cookies.) Got the banjo electrified; it still may need an effects pedal for live performance, but I’ll try a heavy-metal banjo lead on something using the Tascam’s electric guitar effects and see what it sounds like. Got to go to a free barbecue and hear both of Dan Doshier’s bands play—Bluegrass Country and Dandelion Jo. And I maybe got a new last verse to the Norwegian Black/Death Metal song, “Evil Dead Fairies in My Mobile Home.” Didn’t sell any CDs, but I traded one, and donated one to a Southern Oregon Songwriters raffle. Worth the $200 in gas? Hard to tell.
The lesson in all this? (There are always lessons.) It’s important to stay in touch, and not lose track of people. Good friends down there, and some incredible talent—and contacts, too. Opportunities as well, I think, though no one’s yhet been able to make money off them. I’d like to make a monthly trip down to southern Oregon, no matter where I am or what I’m doing, just to stay in touch. Right now, a trip to southern Oregon for three days costs somewhere between 20% and 25% of my monthly income, and I can’t afford that. A goal, then, is to make that more possible.

That works on other fronts, too. There’s still one piece of Concert Season that hasn’t happened yet—the Neskowin Harvest Festival, a benefit for a little private school in southern Tillamook County I’ve performed at before. (And they do pay.) Important to contact them (the school clerk used to be a fan), and remind them I’m back on the Coast, and available, and have new stuff to perform, and I can do it either solo or with help, depending on what they’d like. Last year, they never responded to my e-mail, and the festival happened without me. This year, I need to be more determined.

While I was in southern Oregon, I also committed (or talked about it enough so I sound like I’m committed) to building a Stratocaster out of a toilet seat. It actually may not be hard to do: it is possible to buy from a musicians’ supply house all the parts to build a Strat except the body (the toilet seat would be the body). I can use my own Strat as a template to get the measurements right. It should sound okay, and be reasonably comfortable to play—rather light, in fact. I expect this is a couple hundred dollar project—that will have to wait until I have an income again.

Definitely a conversation piece. What would one call something like that? A Pottycaster? Or a Stratopotty? (Would make a nice addition to an album cover.)

Elsewhere on the music front, I’ve got four songs (I think) by other people to do music for, and an album cover and liner notes to design (it’s a favor, but it’ll be good experience). And on the non-music front, I have the Squirrel House to finish repairing, myself and my stuff to move back to Garibaldi, and I need to register for (and pay for) school. Two more city-manager jobs to apply for, too—one of them within commuting distance from Garibaldi. Just as for everybody else, Labor Day’s over, and it’s time to get back to work.