Season Zero – Episode Three Sandman: The Rappin’ Cowboy & David Ury
Filmed on September 23rd, 2015 at Obsidian in Olympia.
Released in June of 2016.
For this episode Andras Jones rejoins the show as host, bringing to an end the brief Andy Shmushkin experiment. It was fun while it lasted.
Chris Sand aka Sandman: The Rappin’ Cowboy returns to Radio8Ball backed by The Radio8Band featuring Scott Taylor and Skyler Blake (The Hard Way) and Chad Austinson (Chelan).
Our celebrity guest is Olympia’s own David Ury. David may not be as famous as some of our previous celebrities but you’ll probably recognize him if you watch movies and TV. That’s part of what makes a great character actor. They’re sneaky that way.
If you are following our evolution in Season Zero you may notice that we have expanded and deepened our focus to include the experiences of our guests and host in the wake of the event.
It’s a bumpy ride to say the least.
We couldn’t have done it without our sponsors Little General Food Shop, Last Word Books & Press, Oly Bungalows, Salon Refu, Hot Toddy, Druid’s Knook, Gravity Beer Market, Three Magnets Brewing Co., Olyphant Art & Media, Washington Center For The Performing Arts, Harlequin Productions, Capitol Florist, West Central Park Project, Olympia Federal Savings, Pizza Rocks, Symbiotic Cycles, Wisp Adornments, Fertile Ground Guesthouse, The Brotherhood Tavern & Sync Book Press.
R8B February 6th, 2016 with Anya Marina & Amber Nash, Sam Morill, Maya Kroth, and Michael Halloran
Anya was in town in support of her new CD, “Paper Plane” and Andras was, once again, in dire need of The Pop Oracle’s council. As soulful and spooky as it was, there were a ton of laughs, which is a lot, since laughs are the least heavy thing on the planet.
Best of R8B on 1150AM from February 15th, 2008 with Abra Moore
As part of Radio8Ball’s collaboration with Sarathan Records we welcomed one of their favorite artists, Abra Moore, to engage The Pop Oracle with our listeners. As is so often the case when we don’t pick the artist they were way more than we could have hoped or imagined.
Best of R8B on 1150AM from January 25th, 2008 with Jonathan Kochmer of Two Loons For Tea
In January of 2008, Jonathan Kochmer was half of the band Two Loons For Tea and the owner and operator of Sarathan Records, our sponsor for the month of February. To kick off this collaboration we were all set to have Two Loons For Tea as our guests live in the studio but at the last minute Sarah Scott, the other half of the band, came up ill with a nasty bug so it was Jonathan and their tracks and IT WAS GREAT! Of course, Sarah was missed but it was good to go deep with Mr. Kochmer, or as he was once known “Little Johnny Nightmare”.
The Sync Summit returns to Olympia in August of 2016 starting with an exciting month long IndieGoGo campaign through the month of January coinciding with the release of all the footage from the 2014 Olympia Sync Summit.
The time has come to prepare for the next Sync Summit. There are many details yet to be set but this is what we know…
– The Sync Summit will kick off on August 18th with full moon walk of The Kabbalistic Tree of Olympia.
– On the evening of August 19th there will be a Radio8Ball Show hosted by Andras Jones with guests to be announced.
– As opposed to presentations, this Sync Summit will focus on moderated conversations on a wide range of Sync topics led by luminaries from the Sync community.
– Like last time, presenters and guests will be housed at Fertile Ground and their associated facilities, a beautiful, bountiful little bit of paradise on the edge of downtown Oly built around a community garden that provides the materials for the breakfasts we will share each morning.
The rest really depends on the success of the IndieGoGo campaign and ticket pre-sale that is running through the end of January. It’s basically a ticket pre-sale (with some other sweet perks for those who want to support it but may not be able to attend).
The thing about a Sync event is that every attendee is crucial to the fabric of what we will create, and that means you. Do you feel the call? If you do, we want you to be there.
Season Zero – Episode Two Live from The 2014 Olympia Sync Summit Peter David Connelly of The Mona Reels & Mark Hosler of Negativland
This episode of Radio8Ball was filmed on August 8, 2014 at Rhythm & Rye in Olympia as the opening event of the 2014 Olympia Sync Summit. Andy Shmushkin hosted the show. The musical guest was Peter David Connelly of the Olympia band The Mona Reels backed by The Radio8Band. The celebrity guest who asked the final question was Mark Hosler of Negativland, a groundbreaking media activist group Will Morgan explored in his sync film collaboration with Bodie Doggins. Ezra Sandzer Bell, the creator of Tone Color Alchemy gave an opening presentation, and the questions came from a rogue’s gallery of classic Olympians, as well as a couple of Sync Summiteers.
That was the event but this is a TV show, and with The Radio8Ball TV Show, the event is only the beginning.
Since 2013 Radio8Ball’s producer, Andras Jones, has been collaborating on the Synchronize podcast for Sync Book Radio with Alan Abbadessa-Green.
In the mean time, inspired by the Sync Central segments he produced for Radio8Ball – Season Zero – Episode One, Alan created Sync Quick News, a continuing short video series exploring the syncs of any given week that has become one of the most popular Sync vidcasts from thesyncbook.com.
For Radio8Ball’s Season Zero – Episode Two, Alan’s Sync Quick News format becomes the new Sync Central, exploring the deeper context of the Radio8Ball event. Now here’s where it gets a little confusing.
The collaboration between Radio8Ball and Sync Quick News created not only Season Zero – Episode Two of The Radio8Ball TV Show but also Season Two of Synchronize for Sync Book Radio. What does this mean to you and your experience of the show? In the words of Edwin Starr, “Absolutely nothing! Say it again.”
And yet, if you find a potent sync in the branding gymnastics necessitated by our mining of synchronicity, honor and commerce, well, that’s why synchromystics show our work. The thing is not the thing unless it is. It’s the thing we make it and with Radio8Ball we are never done making. You’re doing it right now.
If you are ready for a long and twisty exploration of the music and synchronicities we explored the last Friday Michael Brown and Robin Williams were walking the Earth then this is your nightmare.
Enjoy the show.
Best of R8B on 1150AM from January 18th, 2008 with Alyse Black
2008 begins with Alyse Black, a jazz singer-songwriter who grew up and honed her craft in Seattle. At the time of this show, Alyse was on the verge of heading south to Austin, Texas where she has since made something of a name for herself. Like all engagements with The Pop Oracle this episode reveals more upon re-listening than it initially did at the time.
Best of R8B on 1150AM from December 21st, 2007 with Dream Date, Eden Sky & Andy Dick
For the solstice of 2007 Radio8Ball welcomed San Francisco’s Dream Date as our musical guest with regular contributor to the show, Eden Sky and comic provocateur, Andy Dick. It was Andy’s birthday and he was in great spirits. Eden Sky was, as always, insightful and Dream Date were what we have come to expect quirky, adorable and oh so good.
Best of R8B on 1150AM from December 14th, 2007 with Eastern Sunz & Kimberlee Auerbach
Seattle hip-hop artists Eastern Sunz joined hos Andras Jones and author Kimberlee Auerbach for deep and jovial exploration of, among other topics, “Black Snake Moan” and FOX News (where Kimberlee once worked).
Best of R8B on 1150AM from December 7th, 2007 with Veronica Monet & Andrea Wittgens
For this episode we welcome back two of our favorite guests, singer-songwriter Andrea Wittgens and noted sexologist Veronica Monet. This was their first time together on the show and we got some very juicy synchronicities out of it.
Best of R8B on 1150AM from November 30th, 2007 WTO 8th Anniversary with Casey Neill & Erika Kaye
On the 8th anniversary of the WTO protests in Seattle, Radio8Ball hosted a special episode with activists and WTO veterans, singer-songwriter Casey Neill & Erika Kaye. R8B host Andras Jones was also at WTO, and together these 3 take a little trip down memory lane to the last great protest of the 20th century.
Best of R8B on 1150AM from October 18th, 2007 with Hans York, Eden Sky & Veronica Monet
On October 18th, 2007 (the day Joey Bishop died) our musical guest was Hans York whose songs were the oracle fodder for questions from two very wise and powerful women who have made several appearances on Radio8Ball but never together before this. Eden Sky is a natural time visionary and Veronica Monet is an author, activist and historian who was in Seattle to discuss the history of sacred prostitution. Their conversation went deep fast and stayed there.
Best of R8B on 1150AM from September 27th, 2007 with Sandman:The Rappin’ Cowboy & Paul Addis
Chris Sand aka Sandman: The Rappin’ Cowboy is a long time friend of the show. Paul Addis was a prankster provocateur who was accused of prematurely burning down the man at Burning Man 2007. Sandman showed up at the station with a camera crew. Paul showed up, in the spirit of Hunter S. Thompson, with some very real looking guns. It was a weird show.
Paul threw himself under a BART train in San Francisco in October of 2012. Sandman, as of this posting, is still with us.
Best of R8B on 1150AM from September 13th, 2007 with musical guest Jon Auer
Jon Auer of The Posies returned to Radio8Ball on September 13, 2007 for a series of questions from some of our favorite guests from other shows, including songwriters Scott Taylor, Willie Wisely, Mike Ruekberg, and Robyn Lynn Thoren. Willie, Mike and Robyn are all from Minneapolis and you’ll notice a Minnesotan theme running through this show. Funny how that works.
Here’s the setlist:
1. Lady Sweet
2. Dream All Day
3. Four Letter Word
4. Swinging Party
5. Wicked World
Best of R8B on 1150AM from August 30th, 2007 with Dr. Ralph Metzner
Dr. Ralph Metzner was one of the original rogue academics at Harvard in the 60’s who, with Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert, unleashed the psychedelic revolution. His work as an academic and author has explored (among other things) the phenomenons of shamanism, oracles and global healing from the wounds of genocide. Here he joins Andras Jones for a communion with The Pop Oracle, using the good doctor’s own music as the oracle fodder.
Best of R8B on 1150AM from August 9th, 2007 with Jon Auer
Jon Auer lent his indie rock star credibility to Radio8Ball at exactly the right time (for us), and he continues to be a good friend of the show. On August 9th, 2007 he joined host, Andras Jones for a deep, dark, truthful R8Broadcast.
Best of R8B on 1150AM from August 2nd, 2007 with Jim Page & housing activist Joe Martin
Jim Page is one of the great Seattle songwriters and it was an honor to have him in the studio as the Blue Angels buzzed the city on August 2nd, 2007. We were joined by Jim’s friend, housing activist Joe Martin. The syncs are off the charts on this one.
Best of R8B on 1150AM from July 26th, 2007 with Scott Taylor & Eden Sky of 13Moon.com
On July 26th, 2007 Scott Taylor of Olympia’s The Hard Way was the musical guest and Eden Sky of 13moon.com joined the proceedings to discuss the “Day Out Of Time”. The concept of natural time is certainly complimentary and kindred with synchronicity, as this episode made perfectly clear.
Paul Plagens (1965 to 2015)
was a guest on Radio8Ball on KAOS twice.
October 25th, 2005
January 24th, 2006
I’ve known you since we were in our early 20’s. You were dating one of my best friends when I met you. We all went out to lunch in West LA. I don’t know if we liked each other then. We didn’t really get to know each other until you moved to Olympia to get clean. You could be such a dick, but then so could I, so we became friends. We shared that LA connection. We both got our chances to own that town, and we both made choices that led us elsewhere. Being almost famous was a bond we shared that few in Olympia could understand. That was a tough time. You had your issues with health and sobriety. I was newly divorced and just beginning to feel the sting of Olympia’s reactionary intolerance. It was an important time to have a friend and you were one of my closest. I loved your wicked sense of humor and your dark, sad, beautiful songs, and when you and Scott Taylor hooked up as musical partners it felt like a perfect pop marriage. I had you both on Radio8Ball several times although I’m not sure if you ever played it together. Your connection to Rusty from McCartney’s band was the reason Scott and I got to meet him. What a great gift to be able to give your friends. Damn, I could go on and on.
Here’s the memory I’ll leave off with.
We were at the open mike at The Tequila Bar on Oly’s westside and you said you thought Prince was overrated. I gave you a look that you thought was arrogant and dismissive and it was (I still think it’s a dumb thing to say). I swear, we almost came to blows over it, and neither of us is a fighter. Arguers, yes, but it got seriously heated and I think we went for a couple of months without speaking after that. What I remember most is how you eventually called me because you said we needed to work it out. We argued and negotiated on the phone for at least two hours that night and at the end we still didn’t agree but we understood each other and what was absolutely clear was that we really loved each other, enough to fight it out to a resolution.
Word on the street is you died last night, on August 7th. I know what we’d talk about tonight if we could. You’d want to know how we’re going to make you a rock star now that you’re gone. We’d joke about how even dying isn’t enough to get your music heard anymore, and then I’d get serious with you and look into your eyes and promise you that I will do everything in my Radio8Power to capitalize on your death and the tracks you left us with, and yes, I will be a total dick about it.
I really hope your last ride in your body was a good one. I’ll see you on the other side.
Andras fucking Jones
Best of R8B on 1150AM from July 19th, 2007 with Jenny Jenkins & Michael Zapruder of Pandora.com
On July 19th, 2007 longtime friend of the show Jenny Jenkins was our musical guest. We were also joined by musician and Pandora founder Michael Zapruder for a discussion of the legalities of internet broadcasting.
It’s kind of amazing that 7 years ago Pandora was considered an indie.
Best of R8B on 1150AM from June 28, 2007 with Kym Tuvim & Rae Dawn Chong
This is the first broadcast of Radio8Ball on Alternative Talk 1150 AM.
Having already spent 9 years on the air at KAOS in Olympia, Andras Jones added a second weekly R8B broadcast in Seattle on June 28th, 2007.
This version of The Pop Oracle featured more guests, a tighter schedule, and a divination format where the musical guests would often call in and assist in the interpretation of their recorded songs, as opposed to appearing live as they always did on KAOS. The songs were placed on a CD and the person asking the question would pick a number between 1 and 8, after which that numbered song on the CD would be played.
The show still featured live guests and this first one had singer-songwriter Kym Tuvim in the studio, and a call-in from regular Radio8Ball contributor, Rae Dawn Chong.
In preparation for the next live filming of the Radio8Ball show in Olympia we are building a team of participating sponsors who will be funding the show AND representing Olympia as the audience at the event.
There are 32 sponsorship opportunities and we are happy to announce that the FIRST 8 are now confirmed.
By this point everyone in Olympia knows that 3 Magnets is churning out some of the finest beers for local consumption.
We aim to let the world know
We are honored to have these local businesses as a part of our show and encourage all R8B fans to support them. I look forward to adding more groovy local businesses to this endeavor of creating Radio8Ball as a TV/web series filmed in Olympia.
If you know of any local Olympia/northwest businesses that would benefit from greater promotion and an opportunity to engage The Pop Oracle please send them our way.
The date and time for the next R8B show are still TBD but it will take place at Obsidian in Olympia, and we are already talking with some great artists about participating.
Stay tuned for more updates.
Best Of Radio8Ball on KAOS Podcast – February 15, 2005B
Allen Tousaint is one of the original rock and rollers. He was a writer and producer for Lee Dorsey, Bennie Spellman & Patti Labelle. His songs have been covered by The Who, The Rolling Stones, Elvis Costello, Robert Plant, Lowell George, Phish, The Band, The Doors, The Yardbirds, Robert Plant and many more.
Toussaint was coming to Seattle to perform at Jazz Alley and we were lucky enough to get him to appear as our musical guest on Radio8Ball. We were blown away to get this rock and roll legend in cahoots with The Pop Oracle and invited some of our favorite artists to join in and ask their questions. They were, Lili Haydn, comedian Derek Sheen, Dan Bern & Mike Viola. Toussaint’s warmth and generosity of spirit, so evident in his music, was on full display as he assisted with the musical divinations and gave us a look behind the songs.
We hope you enjoy this Best of R8B on Alternative Talk 1150AM and consider supporting Radio8Ball by contributing to our PATREON campaign: https://www.patreon.com/radio8ball
Did R8B sync with Patricia Arquette’s “Boyhood” triumph back 2010?
Australian blogger Darren Broo has noticed an interesting synchronicity between Patricia Arquette’s recent win at the Golden Globes for her portrayal of a single mother in Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood” and an answer she received when she appeared on Radio8Ball in 2010 with The Janks. The song was “When I Was A Kid” and the interpretation delved into the discussion of projects that take a long time to bring to fruition.
This is an example of one of the key aspects of a Radio8Ball TV show; the value of time and context. You never know how the future will unfold but in my experience The Pop Oracle is usually in sync with our trajectory in ways that are only revealed over time.
Congratulations to Patricia who is growing into one of the great mature actresses of her generation.
Best Of Radio8Ball on KAOS Podcast – February 8, 2005B
This Best of R8B episode was recorded on February 5, 2009 with the great MOSE ALLISON.
Mose is one of the most influential songwriters of the latter 20th century. His songs have been covered by Elvis Costello (“Everybody’s Cryin’ Mercy”), Van Morrison (“I Don’t Worry ‘Bout A Thing”), The Who (“Young Man Blues”) and many more. Having Mose on the show made me wish it was more of an interview format. I could have asked him lots of questions but that’s not how the show works. Mose was there to assist with the musical divinations that resulted from our guests questions. And for this very special episode we had some extra special guests.
The first question came from the person who introduced me to the music of Mose Allison, my mother, SUSAN B. JONES. The next question came from MORTY COYLE, an underground Hollywood legend that I’ve been friends with ever since the early 90’s when his band, The iMposters, used to share stages with my band Mr. Jones & The Previous. Next up we had another Hollywood “inside-outer”, PIPPI BERNSTEIN, and finally, I got to ask my own question.
We hope you enjoy this Best of R8B on Alternative Talk 1150AM and consider supporting Radio8Ball by contributing to our PATREON campaign.
Season Zero – Epsiode One The Radio8Band tributes The Posies with Jon Auer & Ezra Sandzer-Bell June 11, 2014
Paul Pearson of The Radio8Band is an accomplished music blogger. He has documented his experience with The Posies tribute Radio8Ball Show below. To view and listen to the show, check here. “So I think what all the great records and great songs say is, ‘Hey, take this and find your place in the world. Do something with it, do anything with it. Find some place to make your stand, no matter how big or small it is.’ And maybe in some fashion that directs you toward some sort of honest life. That’s a pretty wonderful thing for a record to do. Particularly since it only costs about ninety-nine cents.”
— Bruce Springsteen
August 1991. Glen Canyon Park, San Francisco. I’m in a state of mind I now wish I had more greatly appreciated at the time, or more accurately taken better advantage of. I’d spent most of the previous year-plus in some agitated state between anticipation and mourning. It doesn’t matter why, and if by chance it did I wouldn’t know what to tell you. I was in public, beneath my most immediate self-preservation and protection device: my Sony Walkman. What it was preserving about me, and what it was protecting me from – well, whattaya got?
I’d begun listening to the album on the walk down to the Glen Park neighborhood. I was planning on going to late lunch, or maybe actually taking part in the softball game some buddies of mine from the local bar were playing in the park. But I couldn’t, because what was playing through my Walkman had the floor, and was insisting that I spend 40 minutes or so in input mode.
So instead of brunching it, I’m hearing what this person has to say. I guess love had been one of my subconscious ruminations, because this guy seemed to be addressing a lot of topics I was responding to. “So you think you’re in love?” he asked. “Well, you probably are, but you gotta be straight about it.”
For the record, I wasn’t, but maybe there was a chance. I know I was feeling constricted or groundless, like very little was going my way, and at that point the voice told me “No one gives you anything. Unless, of course, you ask for it.” I was emotionally stranded in a big city, and felt like I was lacking some vital substance that would refocus me. “In this city of lies,” the voice said, “real life is a crime.”
From that point forward, I knew something was going on, so I just let this album spit out its truisms, each one hitting on something I’d been feeling or thinking. “Everybody misses you, but nobody shoots.” “They say you’ve been poisoned, they say you’re closed down, but I saw a light ‘neath your door.” “She doesn’t exist anymore.” “I circle your heart like I circle the world, but I never touch down.” And: “But if you don’t love yourself, what’s the use in someone else loving you?”
And you know what? That day in Glen Canyon Park, when Robyn Hitchcock was talking to me via his band the Egyptians and his album Perspex Island, was neither the first nor only time I sought music for counsel. In fact it was probably something like the 100,000th time, and since then there have been maybe 300,000 more. It occurred every time I didn’t wait for a track to end before I rewound it to hear it again from the start. It occurred when I was among others, having a perfectly smooth conversation, but some album the host placed on the stereo suddenly grabbed my ear, and I stopped talking for two minutes to deal with it. Anytime I heard music, and the end product was not elapsed time but a newly erected benchmark I would have to pay special attention to, it occurred.
I only happened to notice it as it was happening that time. Now, how many times has that happened to me? Ten, maybe.
Whether they know or admit it or not, musicians make music with that intent: to carve out something you will respond to, to create a solution to effect you laughing, crying, kissing, screaming, or dancing. They don’t know who’s going to respond that way; they don’t have a list of intended targets. They create it to cause that spontaneous reaction, in hopes that whatever they’ve provided – a wise lyric, a celestial harmony, an insistent beat – will cause someone, somewhere to feel that kind of magic of recognition apart from their own music. They have no control over who hears the music or how they feel – they just send it out there hoping someone will do so to their song more than others.
So you see artists are in the synchronicity business from the start, and they’re successful at it in ways they usually can’t confirm. Sometimes we listeners and fans are not agile enough to know when that moment is happening, when that question or need is truly being answered.
That’s why there’s this thing called Radio8Ball.
Radio8Ball is one of those ideas that after you hear about it, you kick yourself for not having come up with it. At least I do. Its existence traces back to the nascent era of the Internet when interactivity was still only a modest aspect of our entertainment experience. And although R8B sounds like an idea born for the nervous algorithms and randomness of the cyber age, it has always worked best as a shared experience with actual people, with all gears exposed and crafted care.
Andras Jones created R8B in 1998 at the studios of KAOS Olympia, a community radio station on the campus of The Evergreen State College. KAOS has often seemed confused about how to administer its own legend. These days they’re almost too winded or annoyed to bother with their being the breeding ground for bands like Beat Happening, Sleater-Kinney and Nirvana. I always got the feeling they considered that legacy something they just had to deal with rather than use it to their advantage. (I can say that; I programmed a KAOS show for over six non-consecutive years.) But at one time it was accommodating to shows with the approach of R8B.
Jones said his father, Richard M. Jones, was the prime inspiration for R8B. Richard, who was an ardent advocate of Freudian dream theory, was one of Evergreen’s founding fathers. During the ‘70s he led dream seminars at Evergreen that served as an inspiration when Andras developed the R8B model, which interestingly draws from the Jungian concept of synchronicity.
Every week Jones dragged his 100-CD shuffler into the KAOS studios, got on the air and fielded questions from callers. I can’t say how seriously callers took the situation, but I expect some of them had real issues they were contending with. Jones hit the random button on his shuffler, and whatever song came up would serve as the answer to the question.
R8B being very specifically defined as an oracle, not a fortune-teller, is key to understanding how the answers are processed. Oracles don’t answer you with itineraries or definite events; often it seems like they may not be answering anything you might have been asking. Sometimes oracles even ask more questions on top of the ones you already had. That’s how they’re supposed to work. They give you another avenue to question your role and understandings about your dilemma, and your own interpretation of the oracle’s revelation is every bit as important as the person behind the controls.
The presentational possibilities of R8B were evident from the start, and eventually Jones restaged the forum as a live show. In shows around the U.S., live bands and celebrities served as guests and in-person oracles throughout the 2000’s. The list of participants over those years is impressive: John C. Reilly, Patricia Arquette, Seth Green, Calvin Johnson, Dan Bern, Tracy Bonham and “Weird Al” Yankovic have all sat in the visitor’s chair.
Radio8Ball ran until June 2008 on KAOS, when it was cancelled. I’m exempting myself from telling that story without prejudice. If you wish to read Andras’ version of events you can pick up his book Accidental Initiations via Sync Book Press.
From there R8B moved to an AM station in Seattle for a time, until it was revived in 2014. I got a phone call from Jones shortly after I’d started a new job. R8B was being restaged as a live show and web series, and Jones asked me if I’d want to participate as a band member and chronicler of events. I hadn’t played a show in almost a year, and had spent a good part of that time in inconsolable frustration about where my music and career were headed. R8B sounded like a great, familiar way to either further that reconciliation or at least point somewhere else, so I pretty eagerly accepted.
By the way, I believe I availed myself of the R8B oracle three times: twice (I think) when it was on KAOS, and once during the new version. I don’t know what Andras thought about the spirit in which I summoned the oracle, but I can tell you my questions were dead serious. Every time.
At this point I should probably tell you something about Andras Jones. I think that’s a great idea. But I don’t really know that much about Andras Jones. We met a little over ten years ago, but I can’t recall for sure the exact reason. It might have been to start work on My Brave Face, our tribute band that focused exclusively on compositions by Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello.
MY BRAVE FACE DEMO
“Back On My Feet” by Costello & McCartney
I know he’s a complete music freak. When we start talking music, forget it: We’re occupied for 30 minutes minimum, 60 if neither of us have a plane to catch. I know he’s acted in films, written his own songs, has a rich vibrato I’m jealous of, and is probably a Red Sox guy. I know he’s great at executing somewhat complex ideas like Radio8Ball and Accidental Initiations. But my grasp of his tale of the tape isn’t that strong.
And he’s also not here. Well, he is. When he has to be. He’s here in spirit for sure. But the public reins of R8B have been handed over to Andy Shmushkin, something of an agit-folk provocateur. A very genteel, somewhat charming one, but a shit disturber at heart. He’s been pretty reserved in my experience so far. To be honest everything I heard about Shmushkin was third- or fourth-hand and couldn’t be backed up by real reporting from sources like TMZ. So I really didn’t know what to expect. But he’s fine so far, and fairly tidy for a, you know, shit disturber.
After it was clear Andras wouldn’t be running the show in Olympia I sent him a note asking what the deal was. I didn’t get an answer until an email in July that first went to my spam folder three times. That’s how scarce Andras has made himself.
He said: “Shmushkin doesn’t have any of my baggage in this town. If I’m hosting Radio8Ball in Olympia all I’m going to want to ask are questions about KAOS, but that’s a bummer. Unfortunately it’s the truth, and a Radio8Ball host has to be truthful. So we have Shmushkin as host, and he can keep it positive and funny and sexy, which is his thing, while I produce the show from behind the scenes and continue to work for justice which, I guess, is mine.”
I don’t know. I haven’t lived in Olympia for nine years now. Maybe it’s a small pond sort of town, but I can confirm the fishbowl exists. It helps to develop gills. In Seattle the pressure’s off, but the line is longer.
Andras couldn’t have picked a better band to open the rejuvenated Radio8Ball tribute series than the Posies. Remember that whole business with me and Robyn Hitchcock in the park? Right around that time the Posies released Dear 23, their second proper album, and another one that wore out the capstans on my cassette player.
Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow were always precocious as lyricists. Their earliest albums found them trying to navigate themselves through churning waters we all tend to face when we’re newly post-graduate. These weren’t songs full of unobstructed bliss, untested love or unchecked rowdiness. The Posies talked about the layers beneath those surface-level placards we wear for easy identification. True, they may have interrupted your conveyor belt, but The Posies sang about stuff that needed to be dealt with.
On Dear 23 it was an endearing but serious process. On their most recent album Blood/Candy it loaned itself to some scary, unsettling moments. Through the years in between, the Posies sang stories with ideas, real chains of education, with just enough vulnerability that you knew they were trying to uncover something deeper about themselves, as they were trying to key the locks of their followers.
None of what the Posies sing is easy. The way it goes down is easy, for sure, but even with a song as straightforward as “Dream All Day” there’s an undercutting menace, a context of minor-key power chords and looming voices that might constitute an unwanted side-effect of said all-day dreaming. Their songs are going to elicit a lot of stuff to just come out that they may not have realized were there when they were writing them.
So for Radio8Ball, where the answers come from unexpected places, Jon and Ken’s songs were ideal divining rods. The audience heard ideas they didn’t see coming, from songs most of them had probably never heard before. They are deliberate, wordy, cave-resonant truths, near-truths and dream sequences, and there are a surprising amount of ways those specific words, phrases and emotions can be taken. Many of them will be brought into existence by accident or chance.
How could we have started this shindig without the Posies? Besides, none of us wanted to learn Spin Doctors songs.
From Left to Right: Luke Ogden, Jon Williams, Paul Pearson, Jon Merithew, Olivia Love, Scott Taylor
I’d played with everybody in the Radio8Band at some point before except for one of them. Part of the allure of this whole gig for me was the idea that it would be something like a supergroup of people I’d previously had the privilege of playing with, except for the drummer, who I just imagined was Jim Keltner.
There is no opportunity to play with Scott Taylor that I will turn down. Maybe as part of the band on the Titanic. That’s the only one, and that’s just because of hindsight. If I didn’t know about the Titanic incident I’d probably take the gig. Hell, even if I knew about the Titanic, if you promised me a good rowboat for the band and me, I might take my chances.
From Left to Right: Skyler Blake, Scott Taylor, Luke Ogden
Scott’s a lot like me when it comes to how we experience music: It’s the most personal thing in the world for both of us, something we hear in our own little silos. At that point we’re just taking in information and figuring out where it goes with us personally. When it comes time to turn it around and give it back to an audience, neither of us has any trepidation about taking the stage. But in performance I frequently buffer myself a little bit with humor and something just this side of aloofness. Scott doesn’t. He throws himself into every song. I may mean most of it, even a healthy 80% of it, but Scott never means any less than all of it. It’s a full-time job for him. And he’s the loveliest guy in the world, but doesn’t suffer fools when it comes to music. We have a great time, but we always get a ton of work done. Andras and I have spoken before about how much this guy means to us. If I had a type-A personality with a laconic drawl, no sense of personal barriers, and a frequent flyer card I earned through blood and malice, I would be Scott’s manager in a heartbeat. In lieu of that I keep coming up with dream scenarios about projects we can play together, and sometimes they really happen.
Jon Merithew underplays his experience a lot, so in the interest his abiding humility I’m not going to name-drop. I’ll just say he’s played alongside some very notable people, including a band (maybe two) who’s on many people’s shortlist for The Greatest Rock Band Of All Time. He was/is/could be in a couple of Olympia bands who are key parts of the city’s musical legacy, The Noses and C Average. He will shred if necessary. He could also be a comedy juggernaut if he so chose. I’ve always liked his workability and his willingness to try anything.
I’ve known Olivia Love for almost 15 years, since she was still a teenager and I wasn’t. I believe the first thing we ever worked on was a Carpenters song (“Top Of The World,” no less) that our friend Jim wanted to make into a dirge. We were also in the most successful band I was ever in, although our renewed partnership in Radio8Band couldn’t be a more different experience. Olivia’s another one of those people who just slips into unfamiliar situations and winds up putting her own stamp on them. There’s a lot of stuff she holds in reserve, and I’m pretty sure it’s going to come flying out at some point soon.
Luke Ogden and I have played before, but it was a brief pick-up session at Hannah’s after the peak of the evening had elapsed, so Scott, Luke and I just drunkenly plucked songs out of Scott’s songbook. This was our first planned activity. He locked right into it. I’m not sure how much he listened to the Posies before the show – whether he sat down and tried to absorb every song for hours, or whether he had it figured out in ten minutes. But you couldn’t tell either way. He’s what you’d call a blithe spirit, and he did this whole thing in the midst of his wife’s final trimester.
The only person I’d never played with before was Jon Williams, the drummer from Scott’s group the Fond Farewells. I joked to a couple of people during this experience that it was a weird and unfamiliar feeling not to be worried about the drummer, carelessly and unintentionally maligning all the other drummers I’ve worked with. But he’s really that good.
See how much I’m gushing over here, lighting sunshine bombs up these fine folks’ earholes? But there was really something unique about R8B from the start. We were relentlessly positive about the whole thing. Not a cynic in the house, not a single dropped sense of purpose. There was a lot of laughter of recognition between everybody, like we were a crack commando unit sent to Rock School for a crime we didn’t commit. It was really the ideal workplace. I wish we’d started a company in the late ‘90s; then I wouldn’t have had to work for Microsoft.
I’m one of those people who gets almost as much juice from rehearsing as I do from playing in front of an audience. I suppose this comes from the experience I had holing up in a wide array of studio apartments and garages with musicians of varying degrees of accomplishment and just being happy everything wound up on a 4-track cassette. I have always tended to be process-driven than goal-oriented and that’s worked both ways. The good: I’m a reliable go-to guy for the nuts and bolts, finding out what to do and getting the details in order. The bad: I’m never considered for promotions or business trips.
My first rehearsal with the Radio8Band was very probably the best first rehearsal I’d ever had on a project. It was a huge help that Scott had mapped out the chord changes and the musician assignments in exhaustive detail, so everyone had a few weeks to hammer out their parts in the privacy of their own harems. I took Scott’s chords and converted them into lead sheets, with the melodies and lyrics put on actual staff paper with the chord changes shown in place, like The Real Fake Book that every jazz musician’s dealt with before. This was an extra step I did for my own purposes, mainly. I have this music notation software that makes the process fairly simple; it was also freeware so that fit within the budget. I make up leadsheets to cut down on my own mistakes, but I shared them with everyone else as well. I still wound up using Scott’s notations more than mine, but especially in the process of learning the material the leadsheets were of tremendous assistance.
To a certain extent everybody was already prepared. The first rehearsal on a Sunday afternoon was us just learning the songs as a group, without really thinking about the context of the show. By and large, the number of elements we had to learn after roughing our way through the first rehearsal was comparatively low, for a first rehearsal. Everyone had something to work on.
Scott, Merithew and I go off on tangents quite a lot. I probably do it the most, since the piano is relatively easy to set up and I’m typically ready to play anything while everyone else is setting up. That tends to sidetrack our rehearsals, just in small, minuet-sized diversions where we’ll start doing something completely unrelated to the show. This is why in the middle of some perfectly productive rehearsals we swung into impromptu versions of “Brandy” by the Looking Glass and “Bargain” by the Who. During our first soundcheck we inexplicably starting playing Supertramp’s “The Logical Song,” until Andras suggested perhaps we should actually play a Posies song for that. Left to our own devices, I think we’d make the greatest low-attention-span band since the Replacements. There are about 1,000 songs that all of us could just spontaneously break into. (I wonder if I could talk Andras into making it Radio64Ball. You’d still have the whole 8 thing intact, mathematically.)
We basically get the show down in two quarter-day rehearsals. Not counting a couple of timing quirks in the Blood/Candy songs (“For the Ashes” and “Licenses to Hide”) everyone’s got a fairly full sense of the song structure. The qualms any of us feel are about the vocals, for different reasons. Olivia, Merithew and I sort of jostled around our harmonies a little bit, something that was addressed in some vocals-only rehearsal the following weekends. I can’t remember exactly but I think it was Olivia’s first prolonged exposure to the Posies, and she was working to find the voice to use.
I hadn’t sung anything meaningfully in public for at least a couple of years. (Karaoke does not count, but for the record, I still bring it.) As far as going out there and singing a straight ballad like “For the Ashes,” which I’d been assigned, it had been awhile – definitely a time when I was more carefree/careless, was more concerned with looking impenetrable and horsing around than turning in a pitch-perfect performance.
Now I’m a bit more concerned about getting it right, and it’s as if two or three years (I can’t remember how long, honestly, it may have been four) has erased whatever conquistador leanings I might have had in the vocal department, and I’m clearly not comfortable. Andras notices this and he’s exactly right. There’s a lot of anxiety about “For the Ashes” with me. I’m not sure if it’s because I don’t totally grasp the subject matter – Ken’s lyrics are resolute and downcast, and the relationships in the song are hard to envision, beautiful and gripping as it is.
Or maybe I’m bringing my own personal insecurities, which have been extremely loud neighbors to me over the last two years, into this whole affair. I tell nobody this (so now, of course, I’m telling everyone), but I’d been grappling with the apparent realities of my particular station in life for a long time, and “For the Ashes” seems to speak to part of it. I feel I’m no longer getting the opportunities I had received when I was younger. I’m frustrated at not working in the music field for which I’m clearly suited, and have sort of resigned myself to being a wage slave with a music hobby until shortly before my funeral. I’d almost gotten exactly the job I needed just a few weeks before, but came in second out of over 250 applicants. I figure it took five years for that chance to show up, and the next chance, if it happens at all, won’t be coming any sooner. And it’s killing me 24 hours a day. This is gnawing on my spine constantly.
Again, nobody knows this is the case in Radio8Band, because… I don’t really have a good reason why, or why not. But that’s what’s happening, and I’m also not telling anyone how much I value the fraternization that’s going on, how much it’s making me feel involved again.
The second weekend of rehearsals we actually run through a mock show with Shmushkin. We’re each asking questions and “spinning” the 8-Ball – actually just picking the cards, since it’s a rehearsal and the wheel is still hibernating – and playing whatever Posies song comes up. The band is taking this at varying levels of seriousness. Scott’s first question was “What rhymes with ‘orange’?” He’s talked into asking about what’s going to happen with his upcoming album, what he needs to do to get it going.
I forget what song came up for Scott, but he’s asked to pick the next inquirer, and he chooses me. I, quite seriously and sincerely, ask the question “What’s going to happen with the Boston job?” The song that comes up: “For the Ashes.” Perfect. Crap. (A month after the show, as I write this, I’m resigned to the fact that the Boston job isn’t happening. Would’ve heard by now. Back to the catacombs.)
I throw it to Merithew, who asks a perfect question about his eldest son, who’s having some emotional issues. Not anything that any of our other parent friends aren’t dealing with; in fact, Merithew’s description of his son sounds very similar, if not a carbon copy, of some of the issues that come up with my middle child Hank. Hank does not like disappointment and is very vocal about it. Sometimes we forget that he’s six and this is comparatively normal. But I hear Jon’s question and I keep thinking, “That’s what Hank’s going through. I really should have a chat with Jon about this. We could exchange information or ideas.” I mean to mention this, but forget.
This is going beyond the point of the rehearsal, but it’s probably slightly more important (if not as time-sensitive) as the rehearsal, and the fact is it wouldn’t be coming up if we weren’t specifically rehearsing for Radio8Ball. If this was Night of the Living Tribute Bands or Live Aid we wouldn’t even be thinking about these things. Certainly not vocalizing them. That point is not lost on us, and that’s one of the reasons I think R8B might have a chance.
I’ll be honest: Up until showtime, I didn’t know if the synchronicity thing was going to go over. This isn’t out of lack of faith in the concept; I’d seen it executed before, perfectly. It’s simply the approach I’ve brought to every single show that I’ve ever played. It may be a deliberate mechanism on my part, to keep me from getting too expectant or keyed up in the wrong direction. I don’t think it’s ever a bad thing to plan as if you’re playing from behind. In a sense it removes the pressure. But this time, I’m feeling a little pressure.
I had no qualms about the band, I had no uncertainties about Shmushkin’s presence, and certainly had no misgivings about how the show would unfold. All that seemed well in hand, stuff we would control. But it was the synchronicity angle, which was not and could never be in our control, that I was worried about. It was the least tangible, most indescribable component of our show, and naturally the most important. That it was outside of our string-pulling was a given; I just didn’t want to blunder in and disable the strings with sloppy scissors. I wondered if the fact of the show being taped for video is going to disrupt the flow and stem the current.
But in the end that’s exactly how it should have been played: We control what we control, and the intangible element susses itself out just as long as we don’t suffocate it.
I get there about 3pm, driving straight from my job in Seattle to the gig in Oly. The rest of the cast dissolves in between 3 and 4. We get set up. I can’t drink enough water. And, of course, this being taped for video posterity means we’re all going to have to get made up, a duty that’s handled by a very nice local salon owner named Carly. I sit and get dabbed over for about five minutes and we have a nice chat. At some point – I don’t remember this happening – Merithew snaps a picture of me getting made up. I am very uncomfortable having my picture taken, but for some reason I love this photo of me getting made up by Carly. It says a lot about who I am these days and the people who are helping me out in their own small ways.
The band is squished together at stage right. Not the tightest quarters I’ve had to endure but we jokingly pretend it’s putting us out in some way. Certain lineups have to be followed to some extent that we’re not used to because this is all being filmed for television, but it’s not prohibitively uncomfortable.
The show starts at 8:30 with the theme song, which we’ve Nilsson-ized a bit so it sounds like the opening chords from “One.” I’m still unaware of any sea change in the synchronicity front. I still have no idea how all these songs are going to fall in perfectly, or if the general concept is going to transfer successfully to the crowd. The procedurals with the cameras make for some moments of stillness that some players might panic over. None of us are panicked though. I think we’ve gone through too many of these situations that have worked out (or not) to get panicked.
And there is some gentle indication via the first few questions that levity is still the expected order of the day. They’re not dismissive or outright rude questions, and certainly Shmushkin is making each one count as a legitimate inquiry. But I’m sitting at the piano wondering why nobody’s taken our bait and asked for clarity on a seriously pressing issue. I’m fretting over the sanctity of the concept more than Shmushkin, fer chrissakes.
It’s not a total surprise, since most of the audience is comprised of people Shmushkin and the band know personally, but it’s a bit startling to see so many people with fairly close ties to us getting selected to have their questions read onstage. Luke’s dad is chosen; so is Skyler Blake, who’s played with Scott for years, in The Hard Way, The Fond Farewells and other projects.
There’s a moment when the show changes dramatically, though. It’s when Liz gets selected to read her question onstage. I’ve known Liz pretty well for over a decade – we’re not blood buddies, but we’ve had our fair share of meaningful conversations and encounters. She’s also Scott’s ex. They played together in Scott’s band The Hard Way, which Luke plays in. There’s a palpable but not unfriendly tension onstage, but fully half of it is how the question of someone the band is fairly close with is going to engage the pop oracle.
It turns out to be the most poignant question of the night: I’ve recently moved to a new town, and I want to know if I’m ever going to make any friends. Frankly that gives me a lump in the throat. When Liz lived in Olympia she was never at a lack for friends, or at least that’s how I perceived it. Just right off the bat the thought that’s she’s experiencing any kind of unwanted solitude is sad for all of us, I think.
The song she gets is “For The Ashes.” It’s a tough one. That’s all I really know about how to decipher the lyric. It’s one of Ken’s. There’s a semblance of death in it, or at least a reference to the finite. It carries the uncomfortable sense of final preparations, of not having all your efforts and time pay off in as complete a result as we’d wish. There’s a part that Scott sings at the onset of the bridge: “Someday I’m gonna wake up dead, I know.” Considering the context of everyone who’s hanging onstage at the moment, it’s a frightening, sad, resonant line.
That’s when all the pieces fall together, where the narrative of the show becomes clear. And for someone like me who prefers their storylines to be relentlessly tangible and couched in utmost logic it might take some time to grasp the intangible traits of Radio8Ball. Andras and Shmushkin have dealt with this strain for almost fifteen years; I’ve just had to get through the set and cash in the drink tickets all my life. Yet I know this is something I like to be involved in. I frequently underestimate my relish for surprise, especially in advance. It feels a lot better than it sounds in pre-production. It’s something I’ve sought to ease back into my life after ten years of necessarily being ordered, the sort of shakeup that I can deal with.
Everyone’s inordinately happy with how it turned out. When’s the last time you finished a show and felt optimism that it wasn’t really over yet?
Remember when I said I was worried the synchronicity angle wouldn’t take? Yeah, that was a silly concern.
Not two minutes after the show ended, Skyler met me outside Rhythm & Rye with the excitement you usually see from someone who just scored a hundred on a scratch-off. “That was a great show!” He was amazed at how fully the synchronicity angle played itself out.
Luke’s parents, Evan and Donna, seemed to feel like they’d just discovered a whole new way to approach music, along with a band they never knew about.
The cameras and technical procedures didn’t affect the rhythm of the show at all. Perhaps they enhanced it. Maybe everybody got the chance to breathe.
I couldn’t hear a damn thing in my monitors. That was something I failed to communicate. Everyone said everything sounded great. I still give myself notes.
I say goodnight to Erin, our bartender, who makes a point of leaving her station, coming around the bar and giving me a hug on the way out. Before 6pm we didn’t really know each other at all. I find that pertinent in some way.
After I pack up everything I get a second with Andras before I head out the door, and I think for the first time in the entire process I let myself ruminate on just how far this can go. There are so many things this format could work for. Introducing artists. Revisiting styles. Encouraging the band to create their own songs. Investigating themes. Comedy opportunities. Dramatic opportunities.
For once it feels like we’re all working for a new way to re-enter into a relationship with music. And that’s exactly how things are shaking down, given the current state of the music industry. The numbers aren’t there anymore, Goliath’s in the nursing home. And at least for this transitional time and hopefully forever, it’s going to be more about the experience and the context, turning that into an art form in itself. The audience used to be nothing more than a headcount; now they deserve a little more than that. They have to be a real component of the experience, part of the animal. They have to feel they’re thinking, discovering, and even giving back to music in a way they haven’t expected before.
“There are so many things we could do with this,” I say to Andras.
But what I really mean is: There are so many things Radio8Ball can do. Pretending we can control it will only mess it up. I have the rest of my time to be a pent-up control freak. Here, I’ll just nudge wherever I’m asked, the same as everyone else does. The payback, I assure you, will be greater and longer.
Grant Lee Phillips & Mary Lynn Rajskub in Brookfield, WI
What the heck were we doing putting on a Radio8Ball Show with Grant Lee Phillips and Celebrity Skype-In Mary Lynn Rajskub at The Majestic, a multiplex cinema in suburban in Wisconsin? Well, we go where the fans want us and we had one VERY enthusiastic fan named Kelly Tanner who wanted us there, and she made it happen. Will Morgan created a Sync film about Mary Lynn for the event. I’m not sure everyone knew what to make of us but I loved hanging in Milwaukee and I had a fun radio interview with Grant Lee. I also got a huge kick out of the fact that, while we were at the theater, they were holding a “Sink Show” in the lobby, with displays of lots of different kitchen and bathroom appliances. Sync show. Sink show. Hilarious!
With Kendl Winter in Olympia, Wa
The fabulously talented Kendl Winter joins Andras Jones for the first of what we hoped would be many Radio8Ball Shows at Kitzel’s deli in Olympia. We only ended up doing two but they were historic. Kendl (a K Records artist) is presently known as Winter Winter.
The Young Evils in West Seattle, Washington
In the days leading up to their triumphant assault on Sasquatch 2011, KEXP darlings, The Young Evils joined Andras Jones for the second night of a three night stint at The Skylark Cafe & Club. Yes. that is comedian Derek Sheen onstage in the picture.
Music journalist, Dave O’Leary attended the show and wrote a chapter about it for his upcoming compilation, The Music Book. The chapter was reprinted in The Monarch Review.
Music by Andras Jones at The Skylark Cafe & Club In West Seattle, Washington
Andras Jones rarely plays shows anymore, but when he does, it’s usually for Radio8Ball.
In May of 2011, The Skylark Cafe & Club in West Seattle hosted, what was supposed to be, three nights of Pop Oracling. The first night with Andras Jones performing the music, the second night with The Young Evils and a final night with the return of The Janks. Unfortunately, at the last minute, The Janks couldn’t make it, which was a bummer but the other two shows went very well.
Helen Chance, Daniel Pinchbeck & Ross Parsons in Seattle
Daniel Pinchbeck writes about synchronicity and other psychedelic utopian topics. He and Andras have all kinds of history.
Daniel joined Radio8Ball via Skype at Theater Off Jackson to ask his question, though exactly what it was, we can’t recall. No doubt it was a good one. Helen Chance played some great songs and comedian Ross Parsons offered his dour insights. We had us a swell time.
The Dutchess and The Duke, Andy Dick & Emmett Montgomery in Seattle, Wa
Just before breaking up as The Dutchess and The Duke, Jesse Lortz and Kimberly Morrison stopped in to Theater Off Jackson as the Radio8Ball musical guest with Andy Dick Skypeing in from someplace strange and Emmett Montgomery keeping things surreal.
The Music of U2 performed by Flora McGill & Electron Love Theory with Eden Sky & Ezra Sandzer-Bell in Seattle, Wa
U2 were supposed to be playing in the same neighborhood as Theater Off Jackson that night but Bono broke his back on May 27th, their show at Qwest Field was postponed, and this show made a lot less sense than it would have, had the streets been full of U2 fans. Flora McGill performed great jazz versions of U2’s hits. Eden Sky Skyped in with a question about “natural” time. Ezra Sandzer-Bell offered a Tone Color Alchemy interpretation of U2’s “Vertigo”, and Emmett Montgomery kept us all guessing whether or not he was serious. For the record, he is.
Bleu, Andy Dick & Barbara Holm in Seattle, WA
Bleu has a reputation as a pop wizard. He joins Radio8Ball for a show on a southwestern themed set at Theater Off Jackson with Andy Dick Skypeing in from a good place, and the adorably acerbic Barbara Holm as our welcoming comedian.
Twig Palace, Seth Green & Emmett Montgomery in Seattle, WA
In what has become of one of the most watched video segments in the show’s history, for the spring equinox of 2010, we were joined by Seth Green and Olympia’s Twig Palace at Theater Off Jackson. Surreal Seattle-ite Emmett Montgomery opened the show with his comedy, and Jake Kotze contributed a Sync Video exploring Seth’s sync web.