The studio is coming along! Here's a pic of it from our first evening back home after more than a month away.
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.
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Direct links to digital services (updating as they become available):
Thank you, Astro Lizard Records, for getting this one out to the world!
We will have Down In The Wash on vinyl later this year on Tuff Break Records.
I recorded and mixed the songs on Down In The Wash off the electric grid, powered by solar energy in a homestead cabin in the Mojave Desert where Susan, my beautiful wife, and I live. The album features a small sample of the amazing musicians that live in this part of the Mojave Desert. Faith and Tim Chinnock from The Adobe Collective both sing. Tim plays the drums too. Joe Garcia of Urban Desert Cabaret plays lead guitar. Luke Dawson from RF Shannon plays the pedal steel. Bobby Furgo (Leonard Cohen, Nancy Sinatra, Lee Hazelwood) plays Lowery Organ. Susan Kearns plays upright and electric bass. I sing and play guitar, harmonica and organ.
The front cover is an oil painting, 12 inches by 16 inches, titled Low Wind Howling by Susan Kearns. Susan created a painting for each and every song on Down In The Wash. We took those paintings and turned them into an eleven card set, with excerpted lyrics inside.
All songs on Down In The Wash by Pat Kearns except No Expectations which is by Jagger/Richards
With a Little Time
Low Wind Howling (Lazy Country Melody)
Let's Stay Together
Follow The Light
We Don't Talk Anymore
Time Won't Stop Running
I Wanna Know How You Feel
My new album, Down In The Wash, is out this Tuesday, May 14. And this July, I'm playing my first shows in the U.K. - The Mojave Moonlight Tour. I'll be performing as a duo with Susan Kearns playing upright bass with my acoustic guitar, harmonica and vocal accompaniment. Find the latest updates and details right here.
Huge props and respect to Rob Ellen of Medicine Music for his guidance and networking. This never would have been possible without Rob's efforts.
Sometimes it takes a little while for music that I work on to get to a point where all you folks can listen to it. Joshua James Huff's album, and other moniker, El Gringo Mariachi, will be available in September. This album was one of the last that I produced at PermaPress Recording in Portland, Oregon. It features some of Portland's finest musicians: Greg Odell (Last Regiment of Syncopated Drummers) on the drums, Freddy Trujillo (The Delines) on bass, James Sasser (Miller & Sasser) on guitar, Mark Breitenbach (Blue Skies For Black Hearts, Less Cash) on keys, and Paul Brainard (Richmond Fontaine) on trumpet. Joshua James Huff (Joshua James and The Runaway Trains) transforms into The Mariachi and leads the band through his most diverse, honest and strongest songs yet. It was a pleasure to record and produce this one. I got the rare chance to play some lead guitar as well as harmonica and a few vocals. September better come fast! I can't wait for you to hear the whole album. In the meantime, check out the promo Joshua made about how El Gringo Mariachi came to be.
One more body blow for the old Rock and Roll town I once called home; The Tonic Lounge is closing. Mark Brachmann and I ended our online, spoof of a radio show, Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio? Show, at The Tonic. We did about a year of Tuesdays in the front lounge.
I played a lot of shows at the Tonic over the years. One of Blue Skies For Black Hearts first shows, our lineup lacking a bass player, was at The Tonic, probably in 2001. Michael Lewis and I kept that band rolling for 15 years.
I played an early solo show there too, circa 2014, when I was still trying to figure out if I was committing to playing acoustic guitar or still lugging the whole Fender amp and Gretsch Tennessean to the club. I played both that night, having plenty of room to set everything up and easy load in through the back door that opened right to the stage. I think that was the last time I took an electric guitar to a solo gig.
I can't even start to list the number of shows I saw at The Tonic. Just about anyone in a Portland band over the last twenty years or more, played a show there. It was one of the clubs that helped us have a strong music scene.
I wrote it myself, in my song, So Long City. "Nothing ever stays the same." But I still wonder, will I even recognize my hometown, the next time I pass through? Maybe I should be listening to the wisdom of the elders, Jagger and Richards, when they wrote, "Our love is like our music, it's here and then it's gone." Maybe, having No Expectations, is the way to go.
The picture above is from NE 28th Ave. This is the new building on Sandy Blvd that is enveloping like an amoeba, PermaPress Recording's old location. Jay Martin took this picture to show me my old studio in March of 2019.
So Long City is the album's title track to my 2016 solo debut. I cover The Rolling Stones' No Expectations on my second album, Down In The Wash, which is out May 14.