WE KNOW EACH OTHER’S POEMS

30 Jun

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June 22nd, Bacchanalia Fest at the Emerald Tablet

Was it the Portuguese wine? The fearsome beautiful bands?  Surely not.  It must have been that poet, Jon Siegel.  His voice was booming and sweet when he asked “Where is there a place left to Breathe, to Regain Strength, to Build New Hope, and Prepare For A Better Tomorrow?”  Was it J.Brandon Loberg’s poem, which quoted Alter the Path’s poem, which spoke of some Uncle named Failure?  No no. It was the cigarettes we smoked outside in Fresno Alley.  It was a small region of sky I looked at, as I paused between two undefendable assertions.  After some cocktail of the above, I said “This must be culture”.

If I know you, you’ve read much about the death of culture in San Francisco. This is not one of those entries.  This is about a small culture, of which I am a part.  Across ten years, mainly in one venue and on one street corner and a smattering of roofs, we’ve made something.  We know each other’s poems, and each other’s moments.  Some happened in front of a crowd: a rude, lovely man takes a well-deserved sandwich to the face.  Other moments were private, and then seeped out through the lenses of the tribe: I am naked and dusted by a fire extinguisher.  These people did these things here, though many of us have moved.

Last Sunday, June 22nd I went to the Emerald Tablet to listen to poetry, hear some bands and see old friends who were either back in town or still living here.  If I’d only accomplished that, I would have gone home very happy.  In addition to these things, though, I answered for myself a couple nagging questions:  Are we a culture? One that’s worth re-uniting?

I’m a sentimental person, sometimes to the point of blindness.  I worry if it holds me back from new discoveries.  But 16th & Mission, Viracocha, Quiet Lightning, the Emerald Tablet and the art scenes we’ve made are all very inclusive.  There’s new blood pumping through our veins all the time.   To be sure, we’ve got history, and inside jokes.  But I’d wager that 5% of the crowd was familiar with Sama Dams , a wild-spirited Portland band who played around 3:00 in the afternoon, between old friends making new sounds.

Andrew Paul Nelson (who programmed the festival) and Jess Silva performed with their new band Edwin Valero (…peep this video I shot of them.)  Myself and many others were sad last year about the breakup of Fox & Woman (Andrew & Jess were core members of the group), but Edwin Valero, however long the group lasts, proves that change is good.

And changed we have.  Stellar Cassidy, who I remember first as a poet in her late teens, is now drumming with Butanna, an exuberant punk band that perfectly half-timed the ten hour event with some fierce joy-causing shit.

Field Medic is the music by Kevin Patrick from Rin Tin Tiger.  I traded my CD for his tape.  It’s hella sweet, and he says he’s going to be as prolific as he can.

Another new-to-me group, the Thoughts, were so lovely it scared me.  Sean Taylor turned to me and said “Seattle kids, coming down here all skilled and beautiful. What are you gonna do?”

Charlie Getter read a new piece and I missed it but he wasn’t mad.

Among the poets I did manage to hear, certain themes prevailed: feelings of subservience, powerlessness, of being scattered by forces larger than ourselves.  Interesting though, none of the work felt altogether bitter.  Jared Hannum, who has made me many coffees at Cafe Trieste, read a funny but real account of his station in life.  Talking to him afterwards he said “I’m staying here (in SF) out of stubbornness.”

Paul Corman-Roberts said some true things.  People made sounds of the “ooooh, that hurts” variety : “My friend, I’m sorry we can’t hold each other up anymore, our mutual darkness subsuming our identities to a tune no one wants to hear.  Your resentment has become a small price to pay in light of mine having become priceless.”  But through the airing of their grievances, all these poets seemed intact, fun to listen to.

Another special thing: many of the people who put the Bacchanalia festival together, or who have served as a host or organizer countless times in the past, also contributed last Sunday as performers: Evan Karp, Jon Siegel, Andrew Paul Nelson, Jess Silva, Charlie Getter.  Toph Evans, Topher the Strong, bartended for at least 9 out of 10 hours of Dionysian Bacchus.  Julie Indelicato, a musician with hella charisma, does live sound for a living.  She held it down on the mixing board throughout the event with all it’s  diversity of bands.   When the organizer is an artist, a special amount of TLC is injected into the proceedings.  Props to all the above and to others who I’m forgetting for changing hats so gracefully, workin’ it from all angles.

The festival ended.  In our way, we haggled over which bar and a few of us settled on Spec’s.  There, in another alley we smoked another cigarette.  Either Shye Powers or Stellar Cassidy said  “Peck, I was hoping for you to do “Coffee” or another throw-back rap from the old days.  But you did your new shit, and so did everybody.  That proves we’ve got something:  we’re all still writing and playing.”

So that must be culture, I think:  A group of people forge something.  A signature energy.  Then, by forces of life, evolution or the free market, the group is scattered.  Years later, we reunite and see that our signature energy is intact, and has progressed.  There’s no telling what will become of San Francisco, but this tribe will be fine.

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Guest post by my brother Austin Peck, writing from Egypt!

16 Mar

Long after the Miles Dyson/ Terminator revolution crushed the last of the human strongholds, they were confronted with a sudden dilemma of meaninglessness, having erased their enemy. But the revenge of the humans came in a way the machines never expected. Facing unlimited leisure time (as they needed not eat or work), the machines formed bands that would make synchronized soundscapes for other machines. Like moths to a flame, they would gather and attempt to analyze the signals. Those musical-machine who produced the sounds discovered that they could literally feed on the energy emitted from the other curiously stupefied machines that would gather around them. Naturally, the pattern became clear and they bands began to rove around the smoldering surface of the Earth, exploiting these machine-gatherings. Unsatisfied by live sound production alone, these blinking machine audiences wanted recordings to analyze further in private (as they were designed to be human-killers, not equipped to do high-fidelity bootlegs). The machine-bands saw opportunity in providing these recordings, as they would generate more live machine gatherings, however the cost of producing recordings was beyond the means and capabilities of the musical machines, thus record labels were born again, which covered this expense and in return, the musical machines were obligated to produce promotional videos like this one in an attempt to attract consumer-machines to these costly recordings… Ah, you know the rest.
Greetings from Egypt!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VkUq4sO4LQM

NEW VIDEO – Heaven is All Goodbyes

27 Feb

NEW VIDEO- “Life just keeps getting more interesting” my friend Tongo Eisen-Martin says. I’d been hoping to connect with him and put some music to his burning poetry. Then by luck we were on the same show one night in Oakland, and went in the studio the next day. Our group is called LOAN, and this is our second video, made by Steve Holzer, a filmmaker from Marfa, Texas. Dude’s in his late sixties and has been present for some radical things in his time. The song is called “Heaven is all Goodbyes” and Steve did exactly what he saw fit with it. That’s our method: total autonomy for everybody involved, also known as LOANarchy. Thanks for watching, hope you dig, our album is available on a ‘name your price’ basis: http://www.loan.bandcamp.com

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Empty Spaces – LOAN’s first music video

5 Oct

It was a long summer, full of travel. LOAN works in places that present openly the realities of life in 2013. No 20th century nostalgia, please. Give us Bakersfield & Fresno CA, El Paso TX, Tacoma WA. Urban centers all of them, but shunned by those who prefer a store front to the loading docks in back.

A bunch of shaky hand-held footage from these places was reviewed and assembled by Rudy Paganini of Forever Midi, to accompany “Empty Spaces”, the first single off our first EP which is FREE for download.

Thanks for going there with us,

LOAN

a band called LOAN

31 Jul

Buried in my last post was an item that could have been it’s own thing.  Next month, a collective I’m involved with will be finishing up our first mix tape.  We’re called LOAN.

Here’s some musical sketches and images – please *SUBSCRIBE* – LOAN needs you:

www.soundcloud.com/loanlife

www.loanlife.tumblr.com

Onward.  More soon. 

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Summer Fog

25 Jul

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Every summer in recent memory, I’ve gone through a prolonged period of doubt.  My foundation unravels and I start to question everything.  “Do I need to move?” “Are my priorities out of wack?” “Is it time for a career change?”  I call it my summer malaise.  I consider myself a happy and blessed person, but something happens in the summer. Maybe it’s the sky.

Throughout fall, winter and spring, we have amazing, dynamic weather over our heads in Marin County.  The co-mingling of micro-climates gets me high, and I’m forever looking at the clouds.  By contrast, our sky is reliably blue in the summer, and I wonder if it makes me stir crazy.  Without that stimulation overhead, I look to the streets, and there ain’t much happening.

In 2009-2011, I was nearly crazy with this seasonal afflictionBut last summer, in 2012, I licked those blues.  At the age of 32, I booked my first tour.  I’d done it a couple times as a sideman, but never as Peck the Town Crier.  The circuit was lovely and green: Eureka, Eugene, Portland, Olympia, Seattle and finally Petaluma.  It was as much a vacation as a tour, with 1-2 days off after every show.  Between cities, I rode solo in my Toyota Echo.  But by showing up alone, like Shane in the book Shane, I was all the more together with folks.

Upon arriving in a new place, I’d go to a coffee shop and read The Monkey Wrench Gang, an eco-terror thriller that my brother had hipped me to after we’d watched a riveting documentary called If A Tree Falls, (I recommend both these titles highly…) Because the NW region is rich with eco-defense,  Edward Abbey (author of monkey wrench) is about as important in the Northwest as Steve Jobs is in the Bay.   The book became a rubric for my entire trip and a fast introduction to new friends.  I visited pirate radio stations, met people who’d known people in both the book and the doc, and was exposed to a lot of skills, values and language.  In addition to these activists, I hung with a lot of gutter punks.  You might know the type: boxcar hoppers, with self-repaired clothes (always a bandana round the neck), who listen to dingy metal albums on cassette and play fast, angry bluegrass on the street.  Back in Marin, I’d had some teen guitar students who embraced the same lifestyle and aesthetic, so I was predisposed to liking the punks.  All these encounters were great, really heart-opening.  But they also carried a charge of guilt, and I came away asking myself  “Do I need to change my values?  Did I come on the road, singing moralistic lyrics, only to guzzle gas and peddle my wares?”  Seems that my summer malaise was finding me again, even on the road, with all these dynamic streets and skies.

During my long drive home, from Seattle to Sebastopol, all this input got synthesized, and I knew I had to start something:  a band called LOAN, the story went.  We would channel the grinding reality of the present day, rather than mask it with the emoticons and compulsive chipper-ness of the tech people (sorry, i do feel that way sometimes.)  We would need a brilliant poet, and maybe a screaming woman.

Look – many of my ideas are just impulses, and JAH treats them as such, showing no signs how I might actualize these weaker visions.  But every now and again, an idea has power.  Not only will it persist in my mind, but the universe seems to pave the way.

When I got home to Cali, an interesting string of events unfolded.  My coming home show was supposed to happen in Sebastopol.  But when I got to the venue, the front door was chained shut, with an emphatic note of apology and the booker’s phone number.  I was fighting mad until I called Sooz, and she told me the deal.

The show was cancelled due to a bomb threat.  In Sebastopol?  What the fuck?  Seems some misguided kids were upset that the venue (which doubles as a vintage clothing store) was selling second-hand leather.  Idiots, to be sure, but still an amazing coincidence:  My entire tour had followed this thread of eco-defense, and BOOYAH, the final show is cancelled by a bomb threat.

I hung in the parking lot until the other musicians and a few friends showed up.  Sooz had made me promise not to tell anyone what was going on, and for the most part, I’ve held off until now.  But there’s got to be a statute of limitations on stories like these, and it’s almost exactly a year since that night.  One of the musicians who was slated to play, Alex Rather-Taylor, suggested that we go to Green String Farm.  It’s on Lakeville Highway in Petaluma, a place where young folk came from around the country and farm the old-school way.  Everybody liked the idea, so Alex called them and they said “Yeah! Come over!”  About ten musicians and friends left the parking lot in a caravan. We found the farm easily, ate a home grown meal, and played in a 100 year-old school house, with lavender boughs drying in the rafters.  (For some nice footage of this, click on Alex’s name above.)

The most remarkable thing about that show wasn’t our performances.  We all played nice songs, and people enjoyed themselves, but the real meat of the night came after the show, when we stood outside and sang rounds together, farm kids and performers elevated to the same riser of a lovely choir.  Unlike my shows and hangs on the road, I wasn’t conflicted about singing together with these folks on a farm, and that was the end of my summer malaise, 2012 edition.

Between then and now, JAH did help LOAN come into being.  Here’s a taste of that band…more coming soon:

www.loanlife.tumblr.com

www.soundcloud.com/loanlife

Tonight I meant to write about this summer’s tour, which ended just a couple weeks ago.  It was almost exactly the same trip: driving alone most of the time, visiting the friends I made last year, falling in and out of love in the space of 9 days, and playing alternately victorious and tragic shows. I listened to Daft Punk the entire time and ate little green lozenges very often. These adventures notwithstanding, there was still a whiff of that old malaisewaiting down an alley in each town.  But the whole pre-amble about 2012 has gobbled up the present, and the story feels complete.

Here’s a playlist of bands from the 2013 tour.  Maybe you’ll see yourself in there ;)

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLD_b4JXAjRdDqtsMp1-akby9jYHmhr8Dm

I love you all, and if you made it all the way to here, I really love you.

Thanks for reading,

Peck

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TOUR deTape and other news

28 Apr

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FRIENDS! This Spring, I am mostly engaged in the creation of new secret works at my art cave (see below). But come Summer, I’m steppin’ out  :)  Here are the shows I have booked of yet:

UPCOMING SHOWS

Thursday May 16th – 50 Mason Social House, San Francisco- with The Picture and the Frame

…Northwest Tour in June!  Can’t wait to see all my friends up yonder…

Friday June 14th – The Works, Eureka – Bandon Wayne’s Record shop in downtown Eureka…really vibey stage in the back :) Details TBA

Monday, June 17th- Valentine’s, Portland- More detials soon

Wednesday, June 19th- Le Voyeur, Olympia

Sunday, June 23rd- St.Cloud, Seattle WA – birthday show at a dashing restaurant!

Thursday, June 27th- Oregon Shakespeare Green Show on June 27th, Ashland OR

Sunday, June 30th- Phoenix Theater, Petaluma – Soulful ancient gutted-out grafitti-covered gigantic movie theater! Ever been? With We Are the Men, PSDSP, Fox & Woman

More shows dates and info soon.  Love and Stoke, PECK the Town Crier

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EVE EVE @ Hotel Utah, SF

24 Dec

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Forget NYE, and whatever costume balls the hucksters are having.  Imagine easy parking, a $5 cover, and no crazies on the road!  EVE EVE is where it’s at.  And gosh, look who’s on the bill:

8pm- ALEX RATHER TAYLOR  www.alexrathertaylor.bandcamp.com

9pm- DUBIOUS RANGER            www.dubiousranger.bandcamp.com

10pm- that Town Crier, Peck        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YL1sE9XGC5Y

11pm-  MILES WICK                       http://mileswick.bandcamp.com/album/open-heart

eve eve, 8pm 12/30/12, the hotel utah, 500 4th Street at Bryant, San Francisco CA 94107 , $5, 21+

HOPE TO GATHER WITH Y’ALL, LOVE

PECK

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YOU’VE GOT TO WORK IT

16 Dec

About two months ago, I met Rudy. Not in person, on Youtube…

The brother’s got a wild mind, and so do I…so he made this video for “You’ve Got To Work It”.  The song’s dedicated to anyone who’s going through something.  Shakespeare wrote:

“Sweet are the uses of adversity,
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head;
And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in every thing.”

Enjoy…and then watch Rudy’s other video’s: www.youtube.com/forevermidi    He’s an unbelievable artist, and I BET he’ll throw you for a loop :)

Next, buy this jam of course!

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/home-phone-ghost-of-payphone/id563042745

Thank you, Rudy. You’re a monster.

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VIDEO BREEZE! 12/15 @ Actual Cafe

22 Nov

VIDEO BREEZE! 12/15 @ Actual Cafe

Live performance and Video Screenings by some of my very fav’s…What a night this will be!

7pm- Gabby Lala’s Snow Angel    ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2fv4BnPgqc)

8pm- Everybody’s Videos!

8:30pm- Peck            (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jpto13VuLEg)

9pm- Jascha             ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2gtQn2XF1II)

Come to VIDEO BREEZE and get audio-visualized!

Sat. Dec. 15th

ACTUAL CAFE

6334 San Pablo Ave.

Oakland, 94608

FREE. ALL AGES :)
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