Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Yule & Holiday Greetings / Year End Wrap Up

It's been a busy last week or so leading up to Christmas. Some wonderful times with friends (see below) and some frustrating times too (for example, keeping up with the Mark Teixeira free agency saga on what seemed like an hourly basis on a Baltimore Orioles fan blog).

Anyway, a summary of the last few days (pardon the lack of caps, was copied and pasted to a note to friends in another forum).

friday 12/5 - my band (the original band that plays under my name with chris chamis, chad johnson and rocky colavito) played the cave in our last show of 2008. future kings of nowhere, in what appears to be their final gig, played the middle set before us. wonderfully attended show and lots of good feedback that this was maybe our best show ever performance-wise.

friday 12/19 - jeffrey dean foster's annual shalom benefit for an urban ministries type charity in winston-salem at the garage. jeffrey's band (whom some of you saw solo in april when he played with me at broad st.) had his band which includes durham's sara bell. they did about an hour of his tunes and closed with christmas must be tonight by the band and darlene love's big christmas hit from a few years ago.

saturday 12/20 - two christmas parties, one in duke park and one near the chatham / orange county line. at the latter, i played several christmas and 20's / 30's tunes on my new instrument, a ukulele. played till 3am.

monday 12/22 - jim watson's 23rd annual christmas show at the cave. it was so crowded, i remained in the pool room or the little tunnel between that and the main room for most of the show to avoid being trampled. still, a very heartfelt and traditional holiday event from the original red clay ramblers' mandolinist/guitarist which i try to attend each year. everyone is given a sheet of lyrics and all sing along with jim.

tuesday 12/23 - was feeling under the weather by so many late nights and was worried i was coming down with something (even canceled an afternoon guitar lesson - we'll make it up, sorry morgan!), but rallied enough by 9pm to join a jam in raleigh with my old friend mark enloe and new friend chris floyd. was in chris' basement. neither play in bands, but chris has his basement outfitted with a drum kit, a p.a. and a fog machine and strobe lights! was silly good fun. i alternated between bass and guitar and ukulele. we jammed for 2 hours on anything from linus and lucy (from charlie brown christmas), some replacements, oasis and even under the milky way tonight by the church, neil young, pretty in pink by psychodelic furs, run run rudolf by chuck berry.

today - drinking dunkin' donuts coffee, listening to my christmas ipod mix, tuning in an out of "christmas story" on dvd, browsing what my friends are up to on facebook friends, wrapping one more gift and finally going to my parents' place in garner for christmas eve dinner.

christmas day - hanging at tom meltzer's house with some friends and the plan is to watch movies and celtics/lakers at his place and then to the pour house for terry anderson's annual birthday/christmas bash.

happy 2009 ya'll.

Friday, November 28, 2008


There's so much sadness, war, terror, fear and downright meanness in the world right now. The economy has everyone on edge. It's a wonder we get out of bed every day. But we do. I do think the change in direction we voted for earlier this month will go a long ways toward correcting some wrongs. For that, I am hopeful.

But I just want to take a moment to thank my family, my friends and fellow Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill bloggers for what you all mean to me. I'm so fortunate to be able to play live music with great friends several times a year. I don't make a living at it, but it's my passion (well, one of many) and it pretty much guides my life. I'm very lucky and for this I'm so thankful.

I lost my sweetheart this year, truly one of the great loves of my life, but we're still warm, close friends. I do get sad from time to time and miss the bond we had, but I sincerely treasure every minute when we are together as friends now in this new situation. It's better to have loved ... you know the old saying.

I was just thinking back on the last year and remembering that today is a year since we lost our old friend David Enloe. My thoughts go out to Susan, Mark, Steve and their families. Other close friends have had tragedy and loss in their lives as well and my heart and thoughts and prayers go out to you as well. I won't name them here due to their privacy, but you know who you are and I just want you to know I'm thinking about all of you.

I'm getting ready to go to a party in an hour or so to celebrate some November birthdays (mine is November 1st and we had that great party to combine Halloween with it a few weeks back at Broad St. Cafe). I've been teaching myself ukulele the last few hours and until I started typing this, I had a warm kitty on my lap. Life is good. Sometimes it hurts. The highs and lows are all a part of the deal and it's how we get through it that counts.

Be good to each other. Love one another. And thank you.

Friday, November 07, 2008

This Is What Change Looks Like

County by county across the U.S. of A. (click for full map - courtesy of Huffington Post)

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Halloween '08

Thanks for all the friends who came out Friday at Broad St. Cafe to help celebrate Halloween and my birthday at midnight with 3 of my bands plus Tom Meltzer and Holden Richards. Somehow I always end up booking 2 or more of my bands at such things and don't get to mingle as much as I'd like. But I suppose in these days of scarce gigs and a faltering economy and less disposable income, I just reach for whatever I can. Anyway, thanks again.

Jeff "Veritek" Hart

photo by Lisa Logan.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

My Silent Partner

I'm not sure how this new nickname came about for my kitty Gypsy, but it seemed to fit sometime last week when I was hanging out at my girlfriend's house. She really bonded with the kitty and vice versa, so whenever she felt like the time was right, she and I would come and stay for a few days. At some point, the girlfriend's allergies would dictate that it's time for Gypsy to go home, but by and large a wonderful time was had by all. Gypsy seemed to reserve her most playful moods for those visits. It brought real joy to see those two play and cut up together. It looked like the beginnings of a really happy family.

I don't know what I'd do without so many good friends. Some of them even have blogs (see my sidebar to the right with their links) that have been written like this one in recent days by my friend The Reluctant Bachelor - talk about timely wisdom. Though I wasn't married to this incredibly wonderful gal that has left me with the blues, the message is the same. I hope I can keep this nugget of wisdom in mind in the coming weeks and months. Maybe she will see it too and it will be of some comfort to her as well. I know I felt that way about her.

Fall is just around the corner. Football season is here. It is easily my most favorite time of year. She and I were just talking about how we agree on that. It's cooler, the fall colors are greatly anticipated and even the early darkness seems a little more exciting to me. It may just be the change in seasons which I love. But Autumn is also about the dying of the leaves, and I guess there's a little something that just died in me. I'm not sure. I am definitely not quite my usually chipper self right now.

I know the memory of countless heartwarming & close times will live on in my heart and hers and there's the mutual hope that our friendship will endure. She really was my best friend, we both said that often in the last few months when things were less than rosy.

Only time and perspective will tell. And that's it really, isn't it? Time. "Time changes everything" as Bob Wills once sang. Maybe her heart will change. Maybe mine will and I'll never be able to go back to that place where we were. But as I said as recently as this week (we both loved to watch football games), I'm the guy you want holding the football when you are down by 6 and the clock is running out with no time-outs.

But back to my silent partner. She's been here from the start. My ex-girlfriend from 8 years ago, a truly wonderful human herself, said Gypsy should come live with me when we split up. She was so wise in knowing I'd need some company in the lonely months ahead. Now that the months have become many years, Gypsy's been the one daily constant in my life since then. She's seen several potential big-time / not-so-big-time romances come and go. She's sat and listened to me work out songs about what went wrong or how happy I was or just trying to work out life's big questions. She's always there with a nuzzle and a warm hug when I pick her up in my arms like a baby. I'm so thankful for her right now.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Summer Catch Up

Been almost 3 months. Much going on.


Laura and I are spending a lot of time together. Couldn't be happier. My kitty Gypsy really loves her and I think the feeling is mutual, so we try to get us all together whenever we can. We are again on her office softball team for the fall league (fall starts early around here in softball terms). Our first game was Sunday August 10. We split at double header with "The Duke Docs" in the Durham Co-Ed league. We went to Washington in June for the Orioles vs. The Nats at their new stadium. I may post a few pics later or link 'em here. We are planning to see Squeeze in DC in a few weeks and catch another Orioles game, this time at Camden Yards vs. The Yankees (Evil Empire).


Some endings and some beginnings and some re-sets. Young Neil and the Damage Done played the Pour House with fill-in drummer Will Batey in June and that went great. Skillet Gilmore (Patty Hurst Shifter, Whiskeytown, Vibe Killers) filled in at the Festival for the Eno River. Another good high energy gig. The need for fill-in drummers was due to a parting of the ways with our buddy Jim McPhail. He's gone on to greener pastures with another local party band. We wish him well. Since he was also in my original band (playing under just my name), we've sought our the services of former H-Bombs, Secret Service and Backbeat drummer Chris Chamis. We're delighted he's on board with me, Rocky and Chad. Also, on the new beginnings front, FJ Ventre, Tom Meltzer and Gary Miller and I have a indie-pop / power pop cover band in the wings. For now, we're known as The Hasbros. In the endings file, I left Amps Do Furnish a Room in May. The strain of all that extra work and a chaotic after work life led me to trim back and retire. We do plan to play Marquee Moon live again sometime this summer, but for now I've abandoned the 2008 project. We'll revisit it next year.

The Ruins continue to be on hiatus since last year this time. I tried to see if a gig here or there this summer would work, but Eric Midkiff is pretty busy with the young family and Bryan's busy with Great Big Gone. I think there were some health issues too with other Ruins family members. No hurry. No one's going anywhere. We can always pick up where we left off whenever.


The NC General Assembly chose not to fund the NC Center for Nursing for the coming fiscal year, so since they report to the UNC President, I was charged with the very time consuming job of archiving their documents left behind, totally cleaning out the office (6 people lost their jobs - it was often sad looking at some 17 years of work by these fine public servants), recycling waste paper, coordinating the surplus and clean-up. I spent approximately 60 hours (and a lot of highway miles down I-40 as my office is in Chapel Hill and NCCN was in Raleigh) there since early July doing this. I had help from 3 other people at various times, but mostly was there by my self for about 45 of those 60 odd hours. This was time I wasn't reviewing our end of year inventory and my normal job (purchasing officer), so I've put in some serious hours trying to get caught up. Still not there yet.

Well, I could make this a truly long chapter, but will end now. I will say that the Orioles have been both delightful in their surprising early season and disappointing with the injuries and ineffectiveness of starting pitching. Overall, for a true rebuilding year, there have been some fine moments and it's good to see some young guys getting a chance and rising to the occasion.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Neil Young, Taco Stands and Lyrics I Dream That Rhyme

note: i'm temporarily back to all lowercase for this one as i copied this straight from my lyric archive.

i was looking through my song lyric archive last night and saw this weird dream i had in late '06. i often write lyric snippets or dreams down for later use. i even dreamed some lyrics (ie four lines that even rhymed - i may use 'em!)

i sent this to ron hank (ron bartholomew of the hanks) today as he was in it. i told him this looks a lot like one of the sleeve notes on the back of dylan's first 4 lp's, the long rambling funny stuff.

it also occurred to me that this was a full three months or so before chad johnson
and i came up with the idea of a neil young tribute band. for the record, we do play neil's song "winterlong".

so without further adieu, the weird dream from 11.21.06 i believe:

winterlong - summerlong

dreamed i was coming home from a gig and i was supposed to stay at a married couple's house. they were home and it was almost sunrise.

the wife was curled up in one room. not sure she was asleep.
the husband was asleep in another room.
the doors were open, so i could see 'em.

i was listening to neil young's winterlong.
i was looking at the lyrics.
the cd sleeve notes said he was inspired to write the song
from seeing local tv ad for a taco stand
that said they were open winterlong (i guess for the locals
after the tourists had gone).

some of the lyrics were (ed: i can't believe i dreamed this hilarious pair of couplets - and they rhymed??):

came off the road with my old band
saw a tv ad for a taco stand
said the others were closed, but they were wrong
we're open for your convenience all winterlong

and some of the lyrics were like
surfin u.s.a. and the last line ended in

then i turned on the tv and saw a band
that was semi-famous like wilco
maybe it was an ex-member of uncle tupelo
and they were ending their set
and starting another
emerging into an alter ego
which wore capes
and the crowd went wild
they were good, but i felt we were better

the rest of the dream was me
trying to copy some computer files
from my desktop to another folder
but there was some virus and they
were all turning into porn files
i didn't know what to do
so i went to go to lunch
i was gonna get my lunch
and a six pack of some kind of soda
maybe cream soda
at a local grocery store
i was gonna also take a tub of mail
to the post office
like with my old job
ran into ron hank at the grocery store
he said his gig was ok but the crowd was poor
we talked about how hard it is

that's pretty much the dream

felt i had to wake up and write it down.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Paddles Cut the Water

I've always loved that phrase from the opening two cuplets of Neil Young's "Pocahontas".

I spent a leisurely Friday afternoon with my pal Holden Richards at Falls Lake, which straddles Durham and Wake Counties. We launched from the Redwood Road boat ramp around 6:30pm. We both had a very challenging week and I suggested a paddle to get away from it all and let the tensions of the week get loose. I'd written a new song earlier in the day (first one at my myspace page) and it had a bit of a nature theme, so it was nice to pair that activity with some real outdoors. Holden later recorded the tune for me at his home in Hillsborough.

This was the first time I put the canoe on the new Jeep. There just wasn't enough water in any of the rivers or lakes last year to really get the canoe out but once early in the spring.

Hopefully, 2008 will be wetter and we'll get to enjoy the canoes a little more this time around. It's always been a valuable escape for me from the troubles of my work week or any other strains of life in this often weary world.

All photos were taken by Holden Richards (right).

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

How to Get Over a Broken Heart

Damned if know. I'll let you know when I find out. But some fairly good wisdom can be found here from someone much younger than me. Until then, I do believe it's better to have loved and lost than to not have loved at all. It's why I stick my neck out and fall in love. I reveled in every minute of it and have some wonderful memories. Love is what it's all about. It's the only thing that matters in the end.

From that blog. This is so on target:

"Good for you for feeling something and taking a risk. That’s called living and all we can do is our best in each moment. There is no right or wrong; there is no should. There is only real.

You might feel sad and hurt, but guess what?

I think you fucking rock."

So do you, baby. Thanks for what it was and for you being you and allowing me to be in your life for a little while.

this just in (a day later)

Saw Nick Lowe and Ron Sexsmith do solo sets tonight in Carrboro. Ron opened with "Former Glory" (youtube of him doing it solo here a few years back). Was he reading my mind? I don't think my fragile ticker could take more tunes like this in one night. Wonderfully done though.

Your eyes are burning low
As you look out on this morning
But your eyes will return
To their former glory

Though the cold north wind may blow
It's all sound and fury
And the summer will return
In its former glory

Everything will be just like you remember
Today won't look as bad as it seemed
And though love's become a dying ember
It will burn brighter than you ever dreamed

For the day is coming soon
You don't have to worry
Your light will return
In its former glory

Everything will be just like you remember
Today won't look as bad as it seemed
And though love's become a dying ember
It will burn brighter than you ever dreamed

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

20 Years Ago Last Night

The Hanks' drummer Herbie sent this to me last night with the message:

"was in my studio editing some video and was watching this on youtube as I waited for a scene to render. halfway through, I realized this was taped exactly 20 years ago, today. wow.

I need a bong hit."

This was the Hanks' first show backing Robert Kirkland (formerly of Arrogance) on March 25. 1988 at The Brewery in Raleigh. We spent most of the rest of the year as his band in his shows across North Carolina. Generally from L to R is: Jim Piver (bass), me (guitar and backing vocals), Herbie Saint (drums), Robert Kirkland (lead vocals and guitar) and Ron Bartholomew (guitar and backing vocals).

I think youtube is fast becoming the new scrapbook for our times.

Here's another, a February 1990 clip from the farewell show by my old band The Ragdads. God, I'd love to have that 12 string Rickenbacker back again.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Will Miss You Kitty

My girlfriend's kitty Toonces (named after the Saturday Night Live skit kitty) died at age 19 Tuesday. He was 93 in cat years, but got along remarkably well until about Christmas '07. After a wonderfully long and relatively illness free (if you discount his loss of hearing the last few years) life, he developed lymphoma in his latter months. He died peacefully at home.

He used to raise his head with this startled look (like this smiley) from a slumber since he was mostly deaf and about anything would make him jump up and meow/growl. He was a much beloved character.

We're gonna miss you little guy. Your lunchtime naps on my tummy were often the highlight of my day. Glad you got to go outside and walk around in the sun on Monday and press your nose up in those wild green onions one last time.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

On Dying and Detroit Rock City

note: i've reverted back to all lowercase for this entry. i vowed not to do this, but i found i typed too much to turn back now.

mark pearce died tuesday in charlotte. he was 44. died roughly a year since my other childhood pal david chalk who also died at 44. he was in the first band i was ever in, way back in '86. as i type this, i also recall we once pretended we were the rolling stones at an air guitar contest at the pier in raleigh, probably around '82. we had a blast and boy was it silly. he was ron wood and i was keith richards. he looked a lot more like ron than i resembled keef. he could balance a cigarette on his lip just like wood. luckily we outgrew holding tennis rackets for guitars and moved onto the real thing four years later.

he'd always been a guitar hero though. he didn't need no stinkin' tennis racket.

i hadn't seen him in 22 years, since the band. he'd moved to charlotte i think. but he was such a big part of my growing up and transitioning away from baseball and into music. his parents helped with the sunday school and nursery when we were kids too and i really feel for them that they've lost their youngest son.

the guy was so much fun. he had some ups and downs then and i know he struggled a bit, but we all had our problems in one form or another. he may have had some rough times in the years since i'd last seen him. but on balance, i really never saw his down days that i can recall. just things he had told me from time to time and now it's been so long. he may have just suffered through them privately and with family. my heart goes out to them as i write this, just as i felt tonight when i saw them. he was always up when i was with him, and so funny when i knew him. he really was the first really good guitarist i ever knew before i started venturing out into the raleigh and chapel hill clubs. i think we all knew someone like that in jr. high onward who was really gifted and entertaining. some left us in stitches. he did both. his dad lee was very entertaining like that as i recall.

later when we reconnected around '86 he was in my first band that played out. we did two shows. skylight exchange in carrboro (opening for blind lemon pledge and the no wax ensemble) and later in raleigh at sadlacks. gerald duncan from the accelerators was looking on and i was petrified. we did my originals (silly songs with titles like "pizza girl", "what ya doin' after school", etc.) and covers like velvet underground's sweet jane and bowie's rebel rebel (mark on lead vocals), not a second time (beatles).

i think the funniest thing he did when we were kids was while sitting in the back of a church van on the way to a retreat in the mountains when we were 14 or so. he plugged his guitar into a boom box and blew us away with his riffs on joe walsh, jimmy page, nugent, etc. whoever was the rock dude of the moment. the thing jimmy cholerton, chris phillips and i all agreed on about tonight at the wake / visitation was how mark kept playing the more choice ribald nugent stage patter over and over on the boombox like it was a rap thing (if you have ever heard nugent's double live gonzo, you know what i mean). some of your more harder rock hipsters all know how that patter went on to later inspire one of the most creative and eye popping band names ever. you know the one, the first word is nashville. he tape would land on a different phrase each time like a rap record. we laughed until we were blue. and all in the back of the church van. this was probably '77 or '78." (note: we all know the nuge had taken a creepier turn now, but then he was just what the doctor ordered for adolescent guitar freaks like us).

our first band was called kipcho and the kenyans. we thought we were so clever. kip was the nickname of our bassist gary jaluvka and it went from there. gra singleton was on drums.

mark also had a kiss cover band when i first noticed him as a musician. he was paul stanley (jimmy says no, it was gene simmons - those fuzzy memories again). i'd like to think mark's in detroit rock city today doing what he loved best, showing off and dazzling us with his flashy guitar style. making us laugh with him.

the visitation with the family was tonight in garner, just down highway 50 as you head out of town and towards panther branch, swift creek, mcgee's crossroads and then benson.

after seeing a lot of old childhood friends, one of the things i've noticed tonight is how little our parents have changed and how much we the children have. this isn't the first time i've noticed this. the parents have whiter hair and their faces are softer, but they're still what they were then. older and softer. wise then and wise now. i don't dread that. we're not children anymore (in editing this, it occurred to me that i had song with that phrase as the title circa '87). we're the grownups now, my prolonged adolescence as an aging single musician notwithstanding. you can just see it in the concern and responsibility in the familiar childhood faces. those are the faces of parents now. they just didn't seem to have the same hard won wisdom back then. i see it now guys. i long to grow old and wise. not just old. i need to ask you guys how you did it. probably has something to do with kids.

was good to see my first cousin derek there. our paths don't that much these days unless it's a family event. he and mark were in kindergarten, nursery school and
most of their school years together. i really did think about how we were all little pre-schoolers rolling in the grass after church and now we're supposedly in the middle of our lives with real medical concerns. he was one of the lucky ones as he survived a first heart attack last january at age 43. childhood friend david chalk passed away exactly a year ago this week at age 44 of a heart attack. greg at 48. leigh died at 38, john at 55, david enloe at 50. i'm 46.

my parents live in the house my grandfather built in the early 1950's.
it's on a cul-de-sac about two blocks from the old garner elementary school
where they now have big name bluegrass concerts in the auditorium where we put on christmas plays as a kid. on one side of the street, all but 2 of the original 1950's homeowners still have one or the other spouse still living there. one of them died today sadly enough. a long-retired bus driver named charlie who lived directly across from my parents passed at age 90 last night. i saw the wreath on the door as i kissed mom goodbye and i drove back to durham. when they told him in the hospital that he'd had a heart attack, he replied "like hell i have!". yet on my parents' side of the street, all of the original owners have passed on. former local country music variety show star and night club owner jim thornton's house has been occupied by either his daughter or another relative for decades. former mayor bill rand and his wife all died in the 1990s or thereabouts (their house and extensive gardens are now a home for peace activists - something they would have been very happy about). my grandfather died in 1965 when i was 3, grandma passed when i was 21. my childhood pastor lived next to grandma in the last years of her life. rev. and mrs. adkinson both died a day apart in 1991.

he who isn't busy being born is busy dying. - bob dylan.

my great great great grandfather had the following written on his tombstone:

george washington hart
born 1809 - died 1901

"view ye living as you pass by
as you are, so once was i
as i am, soon you will be
prepare ye living to follow me"

at the risk of upstaging george washington hart, i did think of this one parting nugget. when mark and i were still playing guitar in each others' living rooms back in garner, way before the band ever started rehearsing, mark and i decided to trade amplifiers. i think he got my peavey bandit and my gretsch beast electric guitar for his 1966 vibro champ amp. i've had that amp all these years.

i blew out a speaker at a rehearsal at carrboro's go! studios in 2003 and i didn't get around to putting a new speaker in it till last summer. for whatever reason, i decided to pull out the amp on tuesday night and play some surf instrumentals with this amp. i played it for an hour. time really flew. it wasn't until the next day around noon that mom had called with the news that mark had died tuesday night. the amp was next to me all night that night as i was playing, as i was sleeping and it's still there now. i'm gonna leave it there for awhile and keep sending good thoughts about mark up there in detroit rock city. we'll join you again up there one day pal. count on it.

Monday, February 25, 2008

New Seafood Loco Pops Flavor


Just the right amount of slick cold fun, combined with a nasal cleansing punch.

This one melted off of the stick before i could enjoy it frozen.

Just kidding. The local frozen pop shop Loco Pops has some of the most unusual flavor combinations and this one came to mind recently.

I was at an oyster roast at Surf City (2 girls for every boy!) on the North Carolina coast this past weekend. Great time. The shot above and all below are courtesy of my pal Lisa (who along with friend Adrienne is notoriously camera shy, so I demurred on posting any publicly of them) But I loved your shots Lisa, and thanks for the great weekend.

Me and my buddy Jack.

Malcolm running on the beach.

Zack (Jack's son), Gail and Laura and the essence of a steaming table of oysters. This is seafood at its best.

Me and Laura.

Throwing baseball with Laura (note the knuckleball) on the beach.

Gail, Malcolm and Rebekah

Jack, Mack and Gail.

Some surf guitar picking later that night (Olympic White Fender Jazzmaster).

Parting look at some truly delicious oysters just off of the steamer.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Happy Birthday Peter!

Peter Holsapple turned 52 Tuesday. It's great to have one of my all time North Carolina music heroes and influences living nearby in the Bull City and gigging more regularly around here.

Do take the time to visit his blog. He's a very thought provoking writer as well.

Peter with fellow dB's member Chris Stamey (photo courtesy of Chinese Broccoli blog). More Peter live pix here.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Ruins 1996

Not much to say today, just a novelty of sorts. Compare this photo of my band The Ruins (Jeff Hart and the Ruins is our full name - band's currently on hiatus, see the "Welcoming Rocky to the Band" entry below) with the one of the Carter Family below it.

I'd never seen that photo of the Carter Family when we posed for this picture in Raleigh in '96. Kind of eerie though.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Notorious Amps Brothers

Update (2.4.08) - Since posting this last week, Tony Madejczyk has uploaded the entire Jan. 4, '08 show at his site. Go here for the whole show.

If you're new to the music I play, in addition to my original bands (one that plays just under my name, and Meltzer-Hart and The Hanks - my Neil Young Band is yet another hobby of mine), I am in a musical collective called Amps Do Furnish A Room. The name is a sly play on words regarding a Durham NC bookstore, plus my very real dilemma of where to seat visitors when they visit my small garage apartment.

Our debut year of 2007, we chose to rehearse and learn the landmark Marquee Moon record by NYC and CBGBs heroes Television. We gathered every Sunday afternoon and occasional weeknights at a house in the Duke Forest area to learn this complicated and beautifully complex masterpiece. We decided our goal each year is to play the selected album live a few times at the end of the year. We actually played the lp all the way through once in January, a few weeks behind schedule to fit it in during 2007. However we did play two other shorter gigs earlier, a three song sneak peek in March and a 45 minute set in September, just two songs shy of playing the whole record. Needless to say, it was thrilling each time to sing and play. I sang the lions share of the record, while bassist Jamie McLendon sang Prove It and Torn Curtain. It clearly made me a better singer and guitarist to tackle this each week with the likes of Andy Fekete and Pete Gamble sharing the guitar duties with me. Andy and Pete really possess the power and rock aggression that Tom Verlaine & Richard Lloyd brought to Television. Drummer Ken Friedman came out of a decades long hibernation to get back behind the drums and anchored our sound on some of the most challenging songs imaginable for what started as a Sunday garage band jam session. Bassist Jamie McLendon added a definite rock snarl to complete the picture.

Here's a youtube of one of the best moments from the January 4th, Local 506 show in Chapel Hill we played with Shalini and Mitch Easter's Guitars in the Sky (The Records) Tribute and Abby Pearce's Heart of Glass (Blondie Tribute).



More videos of ADFAR are here (courtesy of Tony Madejczyk and Andy Fekete).
And here (courtesy of Eddie Huffman)

Just last night, after many deliberations of pros and cons (who knows what album better, who is lukewarm, can we pull this off, etc.) we decided last night to tackle the landmark January 1968 lp The Notorious Bryd Brothers.

I honestly think this one may be as challenging to pull off live Marquee Moon. Luckily, we give ourselves the better part of a year to learn it in Andy's basement and at home in front of the cd player and the repeat button. The Byrds continued their trajectory towards experimental sounds (moog, phased instruments, baroque arrangements combined with pre- Sweetheart of the Rodeo country-rock interludes). They had grown very complex and dark indeed by this point. '68 was a strange year in every respect. It was only a matter of weeks and months after the release of this record that the Tet Offensive and the assassinations of MLK Jr. and Robert Kennedy occurred. Some have hailed this record as not only the original Byrds (Gene Clark had left the year before, but rejoined briefly for an ill-fated tour) crowning achievement but also the end of the innocence of the 1960's. Musically, there are some wonderfully freaky guitar parts played by future Byrd Clarence White. I believe he was doing studio work with them a good bit by then. I can't wait to see what ADFAR's Pete Gamble will do for this.

Since the original lp is just under 30 minutes long (11 songs), we decided we may tackle a few other choice Byrds tunes. When I mentioned the David Crosby B-Side Lady Friend, Ken's eyes lit up. It would be fun to work in some of Gene Clark's Byrds' best.

We also decided we don't necessarily have to ditch playing Television in the year we learn the Byrds. Once an lp is learned, it's gonna be a part of us, at least I hope so. If there's a call for it at some club, we'll do it some more. We're still figuring out this ADFAR plan. We're making it up as we go. Our friend Parke Puterbaugh teaches a course at Guilford College about rock music. I'd love to attend sometime. I've described what we do in ADFAR is like a graduate course in not only some of rock's greatest works, but we get to play them each week at rehearsal and selected gigs. I think we have something really special.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Electric Jet Ear!

I was doing some housekeeping this morning on some old emails that I need to file or delete when I came upon this long forgotten and very funny subject line for an old review for my old band The Brown Mountain Lights' "Late Show at the Cave" cd. The review url is

here is the altavista translation:

Electric Jet Ear!

The Brown Mountain Lights are a trio from North
Carolina that on his (live!) debuut "late show ate The
Cave" a crushing impression makes. The three people
concerned are Jeff heart (acoustic jet ear and song),
Janet Place (acoustic jet ear, mandoline and song) and
Greg Bower (electric jet ear and harmonieƫn). They
manage the klus however far from on their own. Clean
people from the entourages of Claire Holley, the
Squirrel usefulness Zippers, Chatham County Line (Ned
Durant and John delicate), Hobart Willis & The back
Forty and the Two dollar Pistols was prepared found a
nice hand to extend. Especially that last three names
will do pierce possibly a number of ears. And rightly
also! The Brown Mountain Lights sign country which
weghapt as first on food the resembling matter hand
range suffers after a long day hunger on their
eersteling for attractive roots. Enumerating the
speculators proves to be as a matter of fact Ć¼berhaupt
very skilful at situating the group. Just like Chatham
County Line for example we must trio also this in the
countryhoek zoeken where it is built with much respect
for the past to the way to the future. Beside a riding
freight own songs we find of this thus a couple
interesting covers of material among others peter
Holsapple ("Nothing are chignon"), gramme Parsons
("100 Years"), super songwriter Gwil Owen
("Tumbleweed"), legend more lester Flatt ("Get It On
Brother (Get in Line Brother)") and huisfavorietje
Chris Stuart ("Thibodaux"). With 19 tracks and wide 65
minutes music give to the album a good picture of what
scattered concerning two evenings in September of 2002
has taken place there in The Cave in Chapel Hill,
North Carolina. Roots, country and bluegrass mondden
in an absolutely delicious cocktail party which does
look out now already in abundance to the first studio
plate of the gezelschap!

Not sure what all of that meant, but at least I think I have the name
a new song (probably an instrumental) or an album name at some juncture.

By the way, you can still get this Late Show at the Cave cd (all of the now defunct band's copies are sold out) and my solo cd's Glances from a Nervous Groom and Jeff Hart: The Singles 1961 -1990 at Paisley Pop at this link.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Welcoming Rocky to the Band (plus other music news)

Rocky Colavito is Jim McPhail's band mate in Famous on Friday, a popular Raleigh covers band. he's a fine guitarist, singer and multi-instrumentalist. Jim of course, is in Young Neil & the Damage Done with Chad Johnson and me.

More on Rocky here.

Though he shares the same name, Rocky is not the baseball star from the 1950s and 1960s.

Our debut gig with him will be April 18 at Broad St. Cafe.

In other news, for my originals, I decided after some consultations with the band, to drop the name "and the Damage Done" from "Jeff Hart and the Damage Done". We decided it was just too confusing for music fans and club listings. From now on, for my originals it'll just be under my name and I'll post any news on this band's gigs and doings here on this blog and my myspace page. My Neil Young project will continue under the name Young Neil and the Damage Done (see us Valentine's night at Cat's Cradle).

Jeff Hart & The Ruins have been hiatus since August '07 (busy lives, growing families, demanding jobs, family illnesses, etc.). I've noticed they are still playing out a bit with their own self contained band (a covers band they have without me) Full Moon Pie at some of my old haunts like Flipside, so do go support them, they're a lot of fun to see. I'll be adding some of the material I wrote, recorded and performed with the Ruins (as well as my former band Brown Mountain Lights) with this new band.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Time To Lighten Up ... (for a change)

New resolutions for '08:

1) To use more capital letters on these blogs. I always considered forums, usenet, etc. as mostly informal affairs and the all lowercase format seemed ok. But I'm becoming tired of that after 13 years of the digital age.

2) To blog more often here.

3) To keep it light. I noticed a lot of my blogs have been about death, reflection and sadness. I don't regret the blogs I made, but I think I should not only blog when these bad things occur. There's a lot of good going on. Silliness, even.

For example:

My pals Eddie Huffman an David Menconi made me aware of a website called "Vinyl Sleeve Heads" where people place album covers in front of them to sort of complete the picture so it appears it has come alive. Some people have referred to this as "When Album Covers Come Alive".

An example:

And now one of mine:

The grimace must clearly be from trying to fit into jeans that tight. That's enough for today. I have more album covers to pose for. It's what I do.