Thursday, August 31, 2023

A Guest Blogger Writes…

A couple of decades and a few thousand miles ago, I ran a cosy little studio out of my back bedroom in Ipswich, grandly referred to by the cognoscenti as Chemistry Set East. Around about this same time, it came to my attention that the guitar player in almost every local band in the Suffolk-Essex hinterlands looked identical - coincidentally, they were all Shane Kirk.  Eventually I encountered at least one of the songs on this EP, with the proviso that this song "had been kicking around for a while."  As far as I recall, the only time I played it was in the upstairs room of a pub in Felixstowe which faced the deep blue void into which I would shortly disappear.

***recorded at Chemistry Set East, 2005:

Sometimes, not always, things go round in circles.  Some orbits are longer than others, of course, and somehow our world tours didn't cross paths again until late 2017.  The onset of the global pandemic had a way of adjusting priorities for us all, and 2020 saw the transformation of my office space/guitar storage hangar into Chemistry Set West.  Originally reborn solely as an experiment space for the reconstruction of some decades-old cassette tape montages, #CSW has spread locally and internationally. (#CSW is just a bit under 4000 miles west and a little south of #CSE.) Little did we know that back in the old country, Shane was revviving projects of his own.  Imagine my surprise when I found out those old tunes were *still* kicking around.

Showtime came to us originally as just a guitar and vocal piece recorded by Ian Crow at Amblin' Man.  We overdubbed the rhythm section (Deric McGuffey and Sean Dowdall) and then asked for further guidance from the horse's mouth.  "Well," said Shane, "You know some horn players, don't you?"  I had to admit this was true.  In one of my self-appointed roles, I operate a de facto international dating service for musicians.  When temporarily stumped for arrangement ideas, it's always a good idea to consult Trent Jackson, an accomplished songwriter himself, trombonist, and leader of the Unsustainables:

Jen Strassberg and I rounded out those arrangements with a touch of flugelhorn, after all of which we sent it all back to Ian to work his magic on. Isn't technology marvellous?  In the old days, somebody would've had to get on Concorde with a 2" multitrack tape stuffed under their coat.  I do hear, however, that 2" tape and supersonic travel are both due for a revival, much like the time capsules presented here.  

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