Back in July, we were on tour in Scotland. Following our Friday night show in Ullapool and on our way to a Pop Up Festival on the shores of Loch Ness, we stopped by Mark Forbes' Summer House and recorded an interview and performed a few songs. The Summer House Sessions have a lot in common with The Solar Cabin Sessions. But Mark goes further in depth with his interviews (which I find inspiring) and the artist performs a number of tunes instead of just one. I loved the experience of having this table turned on me - I'm the performer instead of the interviewer. Mark directed us through a conversation that covers what inspires me (good songs), the definition of a wash, how living in the desert effected the sound of my latest album, and how gentrification caused us to leave Portland, Oregon, behind for the Mojave Desert, and the changes that came with going solo and putting my old band, Blue Skies For Black Hearts, in the rear view mirror. And I play Low Wind Howling and Mojave Moonlight from my album, Down In The Wash. And I finish with So Long City, the title track from my first album.
My latest album has been reviewed in Europe a handful of times over the past couple of months. I'm posting links to two of the most recent ones. One in Dutch and the other in German. Curiosity got the best of me this morning. I tried out Google Translate for the first time. To be honest, I wasn't even sure if they were reviews. I don't speak either Dutch or German. I speak a tiny bit of French and even less Spanish, but my accent is so terrible, I never speak to anyone. I'm sure Google translate mangled some meanings along the way, but this turned out to be a pleasant exercise. Both articles have done their background research! I think Rootstime must have found my Linkedin profile. How else could they know I have a background in biology? Musik an Sich really dug into our desert lifestyle here at the Solar Powered Cabin and some nice facts about our favorite desert, The Mojave.
Musik an Sich (German to English translation courtesy of Google below)
"Pat Kearns, born in 1970, is active not only as a musician but also as a record producer, sound engineer and songwriter. Having lived in Portland, Oregon for a long time, in connection with the recording of the album Down In The Wash, there was a drastic change in the life of the musician and his wife.
The two took the risk and moved into the desert, in the Mojave Desert, which includes in its extent the states of California, Utah, Nevada and Arizona. Anyone who has dealt with it in detail will certainly associate the term with Gram Parsons, since his body was secretly burned in this desert.
But now again to the Kearns family. They bought a small home in the desert and live there completely self-sufficient. There is no power and water connection there. When it rains, there is water and the electricity is generated by solar cells. And here and there this record was also recorded and mixed. And this atmosphere must have been very relaxed, it radiates the music anyway. This is pure American, with influences from folk and country, from rock and pop. If I wanted to associate spontaneously, then I spontaneously fell to certain songs of Neil Young (because of the often sluggish rhythm and the harmonica) or John Lennon, but also memories of The Band wake up with me.
All songs are from Kearns, except for # 5, for "No Expectations" Jagger / Richards were responsible. But this piece fits seamlessly into the songstrings. This music is indeed very relaxed and this lascivious character can spread pleasantly to interested listeners. High performance of any kind should not be expected, no frantic solos, no enthusiastic vocal contributions, everything is laidback of the highest degree and very sympathetic in expression."
The Reverberations and The Cool Whips both have songs used in the recently released independent film, Woodstock or Bust. I haven't been able to watch the full film yet. You can find it on YouTube, Amazon Prime, and a few other places for around $4. We attempted to watch the film but it "wasn't available" on our device of choice, an iPad.
But we did get to watch the trailer, and this film looks fantastic! It's well shot, tightly edited, and sounds great. The film is about two teenage singer songwriters that appear to succeed in sneaking their duo into Woodstock.
Splash, by The Cool Whips, was recorded and mixed at my old Portland, Oregon, studio, PermaPress Recording. It appears on their second album, Baddies. We intended the album to sound like they were a psychedelic garage band from about 1968. Splash also appears in the trailer for the film after the two heroines have ingested something psychedelic. With the phazed fuzz guitar and Eric Ramon's drug dream lyrics, "I want to ride on the back of a bumble bee," the song is perfectly placed in the trailer.
So Strange by The Reverberations is also used in Woodstock or Bust. It appears on their recently released LP, Changes. Here's how we made that album. And here's their fantastic video for that song.
I'm playing an incredible festival featuring loads of high quality, high desert solo artists and bands. This is going to be a blast! It's the nearest pub to our compound. Hit me up if you want to camp on our land!
It's so nice to be back home in the desert after a successful run of shows in the U.K., a fantastic tour through Oregon and Washington with The Adobe Collective, and another year in the books for recording and mixing the Mt. Hood stage at Pickathon for broadcast.
The studio is coming along! Here's a pic of it from our first evening back home after more than a month away.
While we were very happy to be back home at our Solar Powered Cabin in the Mojave, our resident barn owl that lives in our defunct water tower, was not as pleased as us about our return. Here's a short recording of her flying over the cabin while scolding Susan and I.
Kicking off our first European shows ever this July 4 in Bath at St. James Wine Vaults. After two weeks in the UK, we cross back over the pond and return to where I grew up, the Pacific Northwest, for a run of shows with The Adobe Collective. Get the details here.
For Episode 4 of The Solar Cabin Sessions, my guest is El Gringo Mariachi. You many have seen his other name in the credits of The Solar Cabin Sessions. Sometimes, El Gringo Mariachi goes by Joshua James Huff and he's the director and editor of The Solar Cabin Sessions. About twenty years ago, I was toiling away in a musty, egg-shell crated little recording studio in Southwest Portland, called Studio 13, doing records for The Exploding Hearts, Pat MacDonald and The Nice Boys. One day, in 1999, Joshua James Huff of Joshua James and The Runaway Trains came through my door to put some songs down on tape. On that day, if you told either one of us that two decades down the road we would be collaborating on a recording and video web series set at the remote cabin where I would be living in the Mojave Desert... well, we wouldn't have believed you.
In the last two decades, Joshua covered a lot of miles becoming fluent in Spanish by immersing himself in Mexico for months at a time, riding his motorcycle all the way from Portland, Oregon, to Guadalajara, Mexico. All the while, Joshua James Huff never set the guitar and songwriting pen down. A few years ago, as artists will do, he went through a transformation which was sparked by his travels. While struggling to define the very person that he is - juggling his Mexican heritage here in America with the motorcycle forays into Mexico where he was regularly pointed out as "el gringo" by the locals - Joshua began making tips by playing traditional songs as well as rock and roll in bars in Guadalajara.
Upon returning to Portland, his new persona emerged, El Gringo Mariachi. Joshua came into PermaPress Recording with a cracking band featuring Greg Odell on drums, Freddy Trujillo on bass, James Sasser on guitar, Mark Breitenbach on keys, Paul Brainard on trumpet and I even get in some harmonica and lead guitar on a few tunes. We cut a ten song album which will be out this Fall of 2019.
El Gringo Mariachi brings his mariachi style three piece to the Solar Powered Cabin. James Sasser is on electric guitar and Balin Strand is on acoustic.
For The Solar Cabin Sessions Episode 3, our guest is James Sasser who is best known as one half of real country music torch bearers, Miller and Sasser.
James Sasser's partner, Chris Miller, plays lap steel and electric guitar for Dave Alvin. Miller's name has also been attached to Asleep at the Wheel, Marcia Ball, Wayne Hancock and Marshall Crenshaw who all tapped into his road dog and recording studio skills via the Austin, Texas, scene where the Portland native had relocated. After a two decade stint there, he's still on the road, but is calling Portland home again, where he teamed up with James Sasser. That Much Further West, a Portland country music podcast, says, "When it comes to country singers in Portland, it just doesn’t get any better than James Sasser." With Miller's experience, you know he has discerning taste.
James Sasser was born, raised, and first taught a version of the Nashville number system by his grandmother in John Day, Oregon, population 1800, two hundered and fourty seven lonesome highway miles east from the big city of Portland. Before Miller and Sasser joined forces, Sasser was proving himself as one of Portland's strongest new country songwriters, landing a few songs on TV and in the movies. A dream come true for any Eastern Oregon singing cowboy, Sasser's music was used for a college championship tournament commercial that ran during the Final Four for Portland's now long gone local brew, Henry Weinhard. His east of the Cascade Mountains twanged singing was attracting attention beyond the Portland country music scene.
Sitting down with James Sasser, who pens classic sounding country songs, I was surprised to find out who first inspired him as a songwriter. I should have been even less surprised that this humble gentlemen and fine songwriter played his partner Chris Miller's song for the episode. But after all, it is a killer tune.
Miller and Sasser's latest album, Tell It To The Jukebox, is out on Never Lucky Records. James Sasser plays Tell It To The Jukebox, the title track, for this episode of The Solar Cabin Sessions.
We have a new series we're calling, The Solar Cabin Sessions! We'll be releasing an episode a week through July featuring songwriters who came out to my homestead cabin in the Mojave Desert and allowed Joshua James Huff and I to film and record them performing a song and discussing their art. The second episode is out now on YouTube and it will follow up with FaceBook next week. That means you can catch episodes one week early on YouTube!
In the second episode of our series, Son of The Velvet Rat visit my solar powered cabin in the Mojave Desert. For director, Joshua James Huff, and myself, it seemed fitting to have them as our first guest band on the show: the first musical performance that Joshua and I saw at Landers Brew Co, the little pub down the sand road from my cabin, was Son of The Velvet Rat. I was already a fan of their albums. Plotting to leave Portland behind for the Mojave Desert, I stumbled across them while investigating what musicians were out there in this wind swept land of boulders and Joshua trees. Son of The Velvet Rat's music embodies the stark landscape; high contrast between flat dry lakes and mountains, and beautiful panoramas that slowly change in the light of different times of day. Their songs creep up on you. Not much seems to be happening at first, and then your imagination runs while following the lyrics and melody. Between the listener and the song, in that very moment, a world is created. Not every songwriter is capable of pulling that off.
Son of The Velvet Rat is currently in Europe continuing a run of performances through July. Their latest studio album, from Fluff and Gravy and Mint Records, titled Dorado is excellent and is a perfect entrance into their world. For the Solar Cabin Sessions, Son of The Velvet Rat play an unreleased song called Dragon Fly and Water Lily.
Last Friday's show at Furst Wurld was amazing! The photo above features the full band for our upcoming West Coast shows - Tim Chinnock on drums, Faith Chinnock on keys and vocals, and Susan Kearns on bass with Susan's painting, "Let's Stay Together", featured in a graphic by Moth Box. Naomi from Moody Little Sister took this shot.
We're turning up on the radio and in reviews over in Europe just ahead of my first dates ever on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. You can hear songs from my new album, Down In The Wash, on Edinburgh's Music Routes. And here's a review from ROOTSTIME. Dates as of today are:
July 4th - St James Wine Vaults, Bath 7:30pm
July 5th - Luna Lounge, London 8:00pm supporting 24 Pesos
July 6th - Platform Tavern, Southampton 9:00pm
July 7th - Berwick Radio Rooms 4.00pm
July 8th - String Theory Café, Kirkstile, Hawick 7:30pm
July 9th - Edinburgh Americana Central at The Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh 7:00pm
July 10th - Cyprus Inn, Bridge of Earn near 7:30pm - Back St, Bridge of Earn, Perth PH2 9AB, UK
July 11th - The Taybank Hotel - The Boat Road Sessions, Dunkeld 7:30pm
July 12th - Argyll Hotel Friday Acoustic Sessions, Ullapool 9pm
July 14th - Legends, Forres 4pm to 7pm
July 15th - Beautiful Nairn Nights at WASPS Arts Studios (Workshop & Artists Studio Provision Scotland)
Introducing The Solar Cabin Sessions! We'll be releasing an episode a week through July featuring songwriters who came out to my homestead cabin in the Mojave Desert and allowed Joshua James Huff and I to film and record them performing a song and discussing their art.
In the first episode, I interview Susan Kearns - my wife - who graciously moved to the desert with me a little more than two years ago. In the interview, we discuss some of the challenges we endured, like living through a Mojave summer with no refrigerator or a working swamp cooler. Then we perform my song, Ragtime Bob, which was inspired by Yucca Valley's original name; Lone Star.
Ragtime Bob is from my new album, Down In The Wash, which is out now on Astro Lizard Records.