Bouquet of Pitchforks: Lyrics

 

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The only guy who’s honest is the guy who sings in the shower.  Everyone else is a prostitute.

Kim Fowley

 

The collection here, Bouquet of Pitchforks, was recorded in the years 2017-2018 in Ontario, CA (Wrongtario).  In the mastering process I was forced to evaluate a place for a two year body of work (who does he think he is, Cool Hand Luke in prison sweat?).  I sense it might be how maybe an actor feels watching themselves on film (how would he know?), that is to say, at first embarrassed. The struggle is then to stand back (back back a way back) and hear the salty characterization embedded in the song and not of ones own self, barking out bleeding heart insecurities as the whole world’s whipping boy.  The songs are humbly backed by a plethora of imaginary sidemen on steel guitars, fiddles, Weissenborns, and Peruvian charangos.  A band that likes to call itself, The Shadders (Shadows is what he’s a’tryin to mispronounce).  I don’t know off hand who this annoying other voice is over my shoulder constantly but I just can’t seem to shake him (good luck trying).

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Wreckrium: Lyrics

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The cover image for Wreckrium is one I culled from a Facebook feed of my friend Dieta Duncan.  It was an image that a friend of hers had taken out a backdoor on a ridge in Tennessee during a lightning storm.  I took it and squared it and thought I would try to recreate something with a similar feel.  You can see the wonderful ghostlyness of it. Then I thought why not just ask if i could use it.  I didn’t know, it could be a famous photo, or one taken by a famous photographer.  I contacted Dieta and she said she would contact her friend. The next day she got back to me and said that her friend said to “go with God” concerning the photograph.  Well I translated that to either mean it’s o.k. to use it, or that she would rather see me dead.  I opted to believe the first.  Then I researched the photographer, who’s name was Melonie Cannon, only to find out that she just appeared in a duet with Willie Nelson (To All the Girls…), and that her father was heavy weight record producer Buddy Cannon, who just finished producing Alison Krauss’ upcoming offering, Windy City.  Even before i knew all of this I was already contemplating wether it was wise to use an image that was so much better than the album. Then I thought, hey, you only live a bunch of times!

Someone kindly suggested that it might be better served if it had an image of my face on the cover.  “That would be false advertisement”, I responded.  My face is not what’s on the inside.  A big lightning bolt in a pissed of sky is way more accurate as to what you’re getting for your money.

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Brayer: 2017 Tiny Desk Experiment

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“I believe there is scarcely a corner of myself that is safe from me”

(something Henrik Ibsen almost said)

If you know me, you probably then know just about how not interested in the feat of contest I can be.  “Contests, a little nosegay of common flowers!” (to further misquote Ibsen).

So on a note of hill-torn paradox, I’ve  entered of late the NPR Tiny Desk Concert’s battle to honor the terminally unsigned.  You will see, as evidenced by the video included below, that i’m not trying all that hard to emerge the victor.  I’m doing what I alway defer to, and that is in the act of statement.  One of the rules of the contest was that the filming contain a desk, thus I raided my daughter’s doll house one last time.  ‘Doll House’ will be the last Ibsen reference, i promise.

Let it be know that I’m not making fun of the music series on NPR, quite to the contrary, i think it stands as one of the best bare bones music shows going.  It gives you some great examples of how an artist can be set astray by the vaudvillian layers called production.  I’ve seen some acts on there that I then ran out to investigate in exuberance, only to find out that they were really thier most powerful and honest sardined around just one weisel-shaped microphone.

My wife thought that I could have done a much better performance of my song. I said yeah maybe, but then i might win.  As you know, musicians are  nothing if not notorious for being non-present parents, evidenced so much so that the contest lures one on with carrot-dangling promise of airfare, whisking one in to do one career bursting concert on their inter-nut show, dragging you around on tour, and then never once in the ant-like fine print do they ever talk about maybe paying up front for the babysitter while you are out doing all of this.  Proving perhaps, once and for all, that being a musician is perhaps not the best job for a person with a life.

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Old Time Fiddler Dave Madron

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Here is a picture i had taken of old time fiddler Dave Madron (1894-1978) at Calico Ghost Town in 1972, with my flesh and blood older brother Mike beside me.  Originally hailing from Indian City, Oklahoma, in Payne County, Madron was to become a hero to me in the guise of musical inspiration and leanings towards and about the devil’s box.  I remember visiting his home, a humble fruit picker’s shack, a floor lamp making tea stain shadows on the walls, while outside lurked the disappearing farmland of Norco, California.  The picture above is the day i first met him.  He eventually gave me the fiddle pictured.  It had a lion’s head scrawled into the peghead, dime-store diamonds around the bouts (like the kind Stratovarius used), and a stain made assaultingly by rubbing in plugs of tobacco. Continue reading

Heritage : 1998 Introductory Liner Notes for Darol Anger

I wrote these notes upon a request from my friend Darol Anger, who preformed and produced the epic recording (1998).  As per usual my stream of consciousness style didn’t get past the label heads, sailing like every other free bird, above the heads of a martini lunch.  The project included contributions by Willie Nelson, John Hartford, Vassar Clements, Sam Bush, Bela Fleck, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Stuart Duncan, Michael Manring, and others.  So, needless to say i was edited out in good company.  I hope that you are amused by my humble efforts.  After you are done marveling at my shear disregard for sentence structure feel free to revisit this rare sonic masterpiece.

Patrick Brayer

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Heritage : Introductory Notes for Darol Anger

If the search for reason had an end, and it hired a band, it would be a small army of old time fiddlers on horseback. We ourselves, as if playing in a similar unison, have the identical questions, as if reason were a short artery rising up independent of meaning. To the same rhythm of hooves on leaves, in the corn colored rays we have all the information of the civil war cherry orchards yet sleeping in our blood.

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Craig Smith / Rounder Records CD 0357

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craig smith : liner notes / patrick brayer

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When I think of the city of San Bernardino California, I think of a desert dust devil at a yard sale flinging a tattered moo-moo into a sun streaked sky. My suspicion towards divine intervention was once coalesced through that same paradoxical valley of smog and hard wind, amidst the early seventies, when I met a 16 year old Craig Smith. What could be more unlikely, I questioned, seeing the Virgin Mother of Guadeloupe in mud on the door of a Buick Riviera, or an Inland Empire surf rascal with shoulder length blonde hair being in love with, and mastering an Appalachian syncopation, alone and in the dark of his room. I have come forward to give Smith his due credit for the years of working with a clock maker’s precision at his craft, in the humblest of self defined manners. The musical notes are just the residue of the dedication. An applied dedication to create something mysteriously transparent to everything but the heart. That long drawn byproduct is manifest in the commodity called “tone”. Try to steal it and it turns and follows a tumbleweed up the San Gabriels. Segovia had tone, Django Reinhardt had tone, God knows Earl Scruggs lathered with tone. And tone comes from one place, and that place, my life of contemplation tells me, is “the house of process”. The love of the process of music is so much bigger than the music itself, that when the material tries to stand on it’s own, it is almost always considered illusion.

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Long Live Okie Adams (When He Died)

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Long live Okie Adams when he died

Hot rod and banjos, and California pride

Who has an answer when it’s a parable crime

It won’t be water but rather fire this time

 

The flame’s own boarding school light on doom

He inlayed a figure on a sawdust moon

Like my grandpa always asked, “what was that that won’t forget”

Every memory as silver as an overhead jet

 

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Pat Cloud: The Five String Trane

Pat Cloud: The Five String Trane

By Patrick Brayer

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(photo: Patrick Brayer)

The moon glimmered like a belt buckle with a gut of baby’s breath clouds hanging over. It was below all that, to the tone of the December Santa Anas of 1986, that I found myself in a modest track home amidst the diamond street lit glower of Los Angeles, California. I was attending a party unencumbered by invitation. A party in which it wouldn’t hurt to believe that bluegrass music could, would, and should be the battering ram to birth a new year, or the repercussions of a moonshine lunch. I rode in conveniently on the tailcoats of a long time friend and local coffeehouse five-string banjo godhead, Craig Smith (Winston Salem by way of San Berdoo). As I was, as usual living straight for experience, I watched an indelibly pink Byron Berline (Bill Monroe, Rolling Stones) work the pathos out of a room, trance fiddling, with his eyes locked and closed. Claustrophobic as I may have felt, I was getting in good shape just shifting politely, chess like, across the lavender shag pile, trying not to block in any way the very flux of the pumping event. Bluegrass can be very industrial in that sense. The Appalachian circus virus leapt ghost-like from every corner, but corners not without a certain fuel of gayety. In trying to sum it all up, the rhythm was infectious, even though the interpretation was obviously more from the computer-learned side, and more than a century’s stones throw from its hayfield and pre-tractor origins.

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Ozark Eulogy On the Valley Floor

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Ozark Eulogy On the Valley Floor

Bobby George Rowell: 1932-2016

Life is not one if not ten thousand acts of florid find. That, then a ramrod exit, past a star’s worth of candled footlights, stage left. Which, mind you, is stage right to the audience, if there is any. That’s the rub, being that everything is a bell wrung opposite to the audience view. But once you know this, a path is crystal cleared. To pursue any craft is to first understand this. One must then write that into the quotient of their tale, bearing on the first account. But it seems somehow that we find to feel that just because the stores replenish fresh costumes for us, that we might, or shall live forever.

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I had only a few mentors growing into a writer’s space, but the few I did have I did have. One was a razorback whom I’ll tell you about. He hailed from Hattieville, an unincorporated collection of dust, ensconced in tandem beside such other luck-thirsty Arkansas towns as, Old Hickory, Lick Mountain, Buttermilk, and Jerusalem. Arkansas was not so subtle as California, it was a tad hard edged, more like a golf course for dinosaurs. And this was the birthplace of one Bobby George Rowell in 1932, a man blessed with a perpetually embarrassed skin tone, and lips that didn’t bother to volunteer much movement when he spoke. Relocating to Fontana, California he ventriliqued his way through twelve sun belted years of the attempted teaching of English literature, through a blue collar stunted audience’s gaze, to a bevy of mill spawned and pubescent youths. Only one being me.

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Ray Collins: A World Without Ray Amen

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(photo: Patrick Brayer)

Included below is a song I wrote in honor of my friend Ray Collins. As a musician with Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention he was legendary. As a humble street personage around the college town of Claremont, California, a Mount Rushmore of Karl Marx, Moses, General Custer, and Santa Claus, he daily gave Birkenstock life lessons to us all, and to me will always stand as a benchmark in zen heroic non-materialism. “You are only as wealthy as you act”, he once told me.  The lyric sort of sketches my feelings and the frozen event in which I found him comatose in his Chevy Astro, in one of those herringbone parking spaces, directly in front of the Claremont City Library. It was amazing how he just seemed to be sitting serenely in perfect balance in the driver’s seat. Some uneaten fruit awaited on the dashboard as, like him, a humble posthumous feast. When I came afterwards to check on him at Pomona Hospital I brought him a statue of General Lee, in hopes to to make him laugh as soon as he regained consciousness. Although that wasn’t meant to be, I said a farewell to him and headed out to Alabama for Christmas. I sat to write the song on Christmas day there just after hearing the news of his death from my friend, and noted columnist, and Collins champion, David Allen, of The Daily Bulletin. When I arrived home we were Rayless. I’ve also include below a link to him singing “Anything” from the Ruben and the Jets LP, which I think establishes him without a doubt as one of the greatest white soul voices of his time.

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