Thursday, February 12, 2009

Liner Notes for 6 Year Anniversary Mix

We've had thousands of performances at the D Note over the last six years. And at least once a week something amazing has transpired on the stage, often several times a week. If you don't believe me just ask our door man, Phil. He'll tell you! But, despite so many great performances, capturing a good recording isn't easy. For one thing, these recordings were taken off the sound board, and since you mix the sound board to the room, not the recording, most recordings we get are very uneven. Also, we tend to be busy keeping the boat afloat and therefore neglectful of such things as archiving live performances. Still, we have hours and hours on disc and this mix is a small sampling of some wonderful moments in the last six years. For the newer recordings of the last year or so Greg Rendon was probably mixing sound, and for the older ones I probably was.

1. This is a recording of the Clamdaddys during Harvest Festival 3 or 4 years ago. These great souls have held down a jam every Wednesday at the D Note for 4 or 5 years now, for which we are extremely grateful. There is no better night of free music anywhere, I'm convinced. To hear this recording of the core duo of the Clamdaddys play "Wonderful World" on a sunny day at the D Note during the Harvest Fest is to feel something akin to bliss. At the beginning of the recording you can hear Tommy say, "Look at all those beautiful women out there, man." And Mo says back, "I know. It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood."

2. Back before the Fray was even formed a very young Isaac Slade used to play and sing jazz at the D Note. I believe the name of the act was After Eight. I don't even have any records that go back five years ago to verify. I also can't remember the name of the girl who sang with Isaac here, but I do remember she was very beautiful. I think they were an item at the time. The Fray played a few shows at The D Note too before their stratospheric leap to world fame. We probably recorded those shows, but who knows where those recordings are now.

3. This is a recording of Elephant Revival from a few years ago. Elephant Revival is a band full of all kinds of bewitching magic. For starters, Bonnie Paine may have the most beautiful voice of all the other beautiful voices to have been heard at the D Note. I can't think of anyone I'd rather hear sing. Bridget Law, on Violin, has played with every one around these parts and is universally loved for her bright spirit and playing. I love the part of this song where her voice subtly echoes Bonnie's. Dan Rodriguez who wrote this song and sings it here with Bonnie is one of our favorite local songwriters.

4. This is a recording from January 23 of this year of the local band Paper Bird. With their beautiful lyrics, melodies, harmonies and unique retro sound, Paper Bird is sure to take over the world.

5. Ian Cooke played the same night as Paper Bird as part of a The Long Spoon Collective, which also includes Pee Pee, Zebra Junction, Bela Karoli and Laura Goldhamer, among others. We were proud to host this remarkable collective at the D. Ian plays Cello and does wonders with the loop pedal. In this song he slowly builds up the melody and harmony into a gorgeous sculpture of a song.

6. This is a band from Oakland California called Free Peoples that came through 4 years ago or so. We've been very lucky to catch some great bands passing through and Free Peoples is one who has stuck in our musical gullet. The message of the lyrics is a good reminder... "Some say that there's a rainbow over me, 'cause I'm satisfied I'm one less greedy man."

7. If Free Peoples represents West Coast Peace and Love here, then we should balance it with some East Coast attitude. The Crooners, from Brooklyn NY, came through and rocked our world one night a few years ago. I remember afterward that one of the fellows was drunk and throwing stuff around our basement after the show. Totally annoying, but somehow it fit the rebellious rock and roll spirit of their music perfectly. If the West Coast music of Free Peoples was all about being satisfied, these guys were all about "can't get no satisfaction." And here we are stuck in the middle of the two coasts.

8. Though we love the bands traveling through, we've got a ridiculous treasure trove of riches in our own backyard. Lion Vibes is a great example. DJ Chaos is throwing down the scratch.

9. We love to hear musicians get together for the first time and explore each other's style. Here the great blind boogie woogie piano player from New Orleans, Henry Butler, is sitting in with local funk band extra-ordinaire U.S. Pipe. During the first part of the jam you can hear little glints of Henry's genius as he plays around in the groove the Pipe is laying down. Then the jam morphs U.S. Pipe leading a rousing version of the Funkadelic song, "Can You Get To That". Though Henry becomes relatively subdued here, you can feel the gravitas he is lending to the music. Citrus . And the Pipe admirably rise to the occasion. The leader of The Pipe, Citrus, another local Arvada boy, probably learned the song from his mentor George Clinton and here he lives up to it.

10. Funny thing about this track. It was on the same CD as the D Note live performance by Ego vs. Id and so I thought it was by them when the CD was compiled. But I found out afterward that this is actually a song by Mason Jennings which was playing as tweener music between the band's sets. Oh well, still a cool a song, but NOT recorded live at the D Note. Well, I guess it's a live recording at the D Note of a recording, so kind of.

11. This is a recording of a flamenco dance performance at the D Note last last year led by the guitar of our old friend Steve Mullins, a terrific player and composer of flamenco music. You can literally hear the flamenco dancers on this recording. Veronica Medina gives the song duende. (See Lorca's essay on Duende)

12. Lionel Young won the International Blues Challenge last year in Memphis and is finally getting some of the accolades he deserves. Back in the early days Lionel used to play the D Note every Friday night. He would always pull out the D Note Pizzeria song and, like a ritual, Matthew and Jeremy and I would go out and dance. The song would usually go on and on until we were falling down on the dance floor in exhaustion. This is a way abridged version.

13. Another local boy with living legend written all over him is baritone sax man Aden Harrell. Here he is with his ensemble The Otone Brass band, with a performance that encapsulates not only Aden's special spirit, but also sums up perfectly what we wish to say to you.

14. This last recording is one of my personal favorites. I asked Wu Fei, who plays the traditional Chinese instrument, the ghuzeng, and Colin Bricker, who plays the very modern laptop, to get together for a spontaneous performance for our Friday night winetasting a few years back. If you listen and follow the players you can hear them listening and responding to each other, creating a unique musical sonic sculpture on the spot. No one else but the performers were really listening, as wine drinkers like to talk, but now, in the privacy of your own head, thanks to the marvels of modern recording, you listen deep to a snap shot of this dynamic performance.

With emphasis to match Aden's,

Thank you!

Adam DeGraff

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