We had a good, fun practice this past Sunday evening. Mainly worked on “I Leave Her There Till She Rings 3 Times” (originally from 1996's BIG BUSINESS MONKEY, NUMBER THREE) for the first time. You might recall that a previous incarnation of BOK featuring Garfield Banks on drums and George Nipe III on bass and vocals played “I Leave Her There” back in 2017 for what I think was that band's only live show.
And speaking of the BIG BUSINESS MONKEY compilations, I'm still working on mixing and mastering the 14-15 songs that'll make up the latest offering in the series. As I noted below, they'll all be songs originally intended for an all-new collection initially slated for a 2015 release that I couldn't finish at the time. While five of the songs (all five of which will be remixed and remastered) have shown up on previous albums, 9-10 will be previously unreleased tracks.
“I think all the best music is a mixture of everything you love. You know, people say to me all the time, ‘Oh, that sounds like Bowie.’ And I'm like, ‘Not by accident!’”
“You're always dipping into this pantry of ideas. There's this huge sort of creative pantry that you go in and depending on your mood, you might pick Nina Simone. You might find some Drake and think, ‘Oh, that’s interesting. What would Bowie do with Drake?' That's how I think: What would Bowie do with a disco track?”
“I probably am the most prolific songwriter I know. I just write every day. I'm not saying every single one of them is a gem, but I think when you keep doing stuff, you just get better at it, you know? When people talk about writer's block, what does that even mean? Because every word that you could possibly use already exists. Where's the block?”
– From a recent Washington Post interview with Boy George
Things have been pretty slow with the band. Lots of extracurricular stuff going on for everyone. I think we'll reconvene some time this week and work on adding another song.
As I noted on this page not too long ago, I've had a fair number of inquiries over whether or not there's going to be another BOK album. The answer is yes there is.
Way back in early 2015, I started work on a new album. I originally conceived it as consisting of 18-20 very short songs that crowded as much music as possible into 1 or 2 minutes running time. I completed three or four tracks, including “A Place Somewhere”, “We Must Try to Be Alive”, and “Am I Going Down With You?” but I simply ran out of steam (or more specifically, inspiration) and gave up on putting together a real followup to RIDING THE ECHO DOWN from the previous year. Instead, I started up the Single of the Month Club, which was a way of forcing me to produce at least a couple new tracks every month from August 2015 to September 2016.
In 2019, I tried to finish off the record and wrote and recorded a couple more tracks ("Overture 2019" and “Wait a Minute #2”) but again, I just couldn't find the wherewithal to finish the project off. I produced a number of additional songs in the weeks and months that followed but I couldn't finish them to my satisfaction.
The tracks I had completed, of course, found their way onto other discs, specifically the Single of the Month Club records and the outtake collection, BIG BUSINESS MONKEY, VOLUME 7 but the other material sat in limbo. In late 2019, I turned my attention to a different project, I KNOW WE CAN SAVE OUR WORLD and almost imediately after that, I wrote and recorded the very weird EVERY DREAM HAS ITS GHOSTS, which dropped in mid-2020. Six months after that, I released an album of ‘60s garage band covers, I’M HIGHER THAN I'M DOWN. And, of course, around this time, the current edition of Book of Kills came together.
Then, this past November, I started tinkering with some of the incomplete material I'd worked on originally in 2014 through 2020 and magically things started clicking. I kept recording and re-recording and finally finished off a fourteen track album just last week. Since it's actually more a compilation than a true album recorded all in one concentrated burst, I decided to make it number 8 in the BIG BUSINESS MONKEY series. I haven't given the record a proper name yet, but I will when I finish mixing and mastering it. It's an interesting little collection (14 songs clocking in at 24:45) and it really does hold together as a whole, even if it did take ten years to finish it.
Shades of Neil Young, eh?
Any how, I should have it uploaded soon. I think CDBaby has worked out their problems, but who knows how long it'll take them to ready the record and send it to the various streaming sites around the world. I'll let you know, of course. It's a good album. Honest. Different. But good.
What about the band recording? I think it would be a very good idea to record some of our set list and I'd love to do so. Perhaps we will sooner than later.
You might or might not have heard and you might not even know who he was, but Wayne Kramer died a couple days ago. While I can't claim that he was a big influence on me, certainly his band MC5's first record KICK OUT THE JAMS (released in February of 1969), was a huge influence on punk and hard rock musicians of the '70s.
I think we're going to practice this coming Thursday? We didn't practice this past week.
Big day in rock and roll music…
On this day in 2013, Reg Presley of the Troggs died.
On this day in 2009, Lux Interior, founder of the vastly underrated Cramps, died.
On this day in 1983, the great Karen Carpenter singer/drummer of the Carpenters died from cardiac arrest after a long battle with bulimia and anorexia.
On this day in 1977, Fleetwood Mac released RUMOURS. That record went on to sell close to 50 million copies.
Bob Dylan and the Band began their legendary 1966 tour on this day at The Convention Center in Louisville, Kentucky.
On this day in 1948, Alice Cooper was born.
We'll be getting together this Thursday mainly to work on learning some new material.
On this day in 2009 in BOK history, David "Teker" Tekip, Mike Hicks, George Nipe III and Jim played a show at the Box in Charlottesville, Virginia. This was Teker's first-ever gig with the band. The set list: River Of Blood, Marzipan Day-->Different, Blue Man, Why Won't You?, Caroline, I Fell Inside, Stanley The Steamer, Lost, Breed.
On this day way back in 1969, The Beatles, along with Billy Preston, played a lunchtime rooftop gig on top of the Apple building on Savile Row, London. Lasting for just over 40 minutes, this was the last time the band ever performed live together. Songs included ‘Get Back’, ‘Don’t Let Me Down’, ‘I’ve Got A Feeling’, ‘The One After 909’ and ‘Dig A Pony’. Traffic was brought to a standstill as crowds of people gathered below and watched from windows in nearby buildings.
Can't say we were at our best last Saturday evening, but it was good to actually play in front of an audience, even if it was a small one. The sound was a little off, so I am not going to post the show. In particular, Randy's guitar just didn't come through in the mix and if there's no Randy's guitar, the sound is simply not complete.
We are going to begin learning three new/not new but additional songs…George's classic from his Plague Dog years, “Salvation”, the old BOK favorite, “Stanley the Steamer”, and something new from the last 3-4 years, which was actually a pretty fertile period for BOK material.
I've had some queries over the past few months about whether or not there'll be a new BOK album any time soon, or…you know…ever. I just tell folks that I never stop writing songs. Sometimes they don't come out of my head, but usually they do and I get them down on paper so I don't forget them in case I want to record them. There will be another BOK album, unless there isn't. I guess that's really all you can say about anything in this very very strange existence: Something will happen or it won't. Period.
Practice Thursday as we get ready for a performance this Saturday.
Twenty-five years ago today, George Harrison's cover of “Got My Mind Set on You” topped the Billboard Hot 100. That was the last time a solo Beatle enjoyed a number one release. Of course, the recent “last-ever” Beatles single, “Now and Then” hit number one this past November.
Good practice last night. Still pretty rough but we're getting there.
What sort of special stuff can you look forward to celebrate BOK's 30th anniversary? Certainly some giveaways…maybe some original CD artwork, perhaps a vintage t-shirt. Some more free music on the Music page. Perhaps a special one of a kind compact disc for those who still enjoy their music on actual physical media. Some other sort of things such as setlists, lyric sheets, posters, etc. Should be fun. Stay tuned!
The top ten most listened to BOK/F+W albums of 2023 (in order):
1. Songs For A Played Out Generation
2. WASP 51!
3. The Haunted Life
4. In My Room: The Best of Book of Kills, Volume One
5. The Fear + Whiskey Anthology
6. Big Business Monkey, Volume Six
7. All About You
8. Saint Judas
10. Army of Loud
We had a good, if pretty sloppy, practice last night. We figured out fourteen songs we'll play on the 20th. It has been good getting back together after a long layoff. Looks like this Thursday for our next get-together.
Here are the twenty most streamed Book of Kills/Fear + Whiskey songs in the world (based on Tidal, Spotify, YouTube, Facebook, Amazon Music and Apple Music sales reports) for 2023. These songs aren't listed in any particular order:
Dink's Song (Traditional)
Hello Teenage America
The Girls and Boys Of The Army of Loud/Dreams Of Young
Cocktail Sweet Charm Princess (2021 version)
The World Is Unchanged (Only More Naked)
I'm Not There
Heart's Wisdom Has The Power
When The Night Falls (Cover)
Lost (1995 Band Version)
The Danger That Can Drive You Home
Strange Heart Beating
Get Right Down To The Hoodoo Boom Bay Boom
New James Shelley Blues
Man In The Long Black Coat (Dylan Cover by Fear + Whiskey)
Jesco White (Original Studio Version)
Kisses Of The Crying Cooks (Cover)
Then I Kissed Her (Cover, Studio Version)
Wee Drowned Sisters And Whimsy Frowns
Potatoes And Steaks (Life For Life's Sake)
See You Again (Studio Version)
See a song or two you're not familiar with? Give it/them a listen today! There are many BOK songs that I'm betting many of you might not be familiar with. My suggestion for starters, if you're interested (particularly if you're not very familiar with the back catalog), would be to listen to these albums: THIS IS YOUR BOOK OF KILLS, I KNOW WE CAN SAVE OUR WORLD, WASP 51!, DIFFERENT, TOWARD THE ESCAPE, THE FEAR + WHISKEY ANTHOLOGY and ARMY OF LOUD.
Man, I have (once again) been pretty lax keeping this site current.
I've withdrawn the remixed/remastered version of IF I SHOULD FALL/WELCOME TO CONCRETE until I'm certain that things are still okay with CDBaby. I don't feel like paying to upload an album if it ends up in limbo soon after. I'll keep you guys posted.
I think we're gonna practice tonight. We do have a performance on January 20 to get ready for and we definitely need to get ready because we've been pretty lax lately about practicing.
2024 is the thirtieth anniversary of Book of Kills as a real band. Yeah, the first BOK album was 1989's BLOOM OR DIE? but there was no actual BOK band until May of 1994 when I joined up with Dustin Bugg, Brian Temples and Mike Johnson. We played our first (and, of course, the first ever BOK) show September 1 of that year. So anyway, I think I'll try to do a few things this year honoring the history of the group's various permutations. I'm sure what that might entail, but I'll come up with something.
We'll practice again tomorrow as we prepare for a show at Rock Steady in Harrisonburg, Virginia, January 20.
I've been advised by CDBaby that it could be two months or more before the remixed/remastered version of IF I SHOULD FALL will be available for streaming and downloads. I'm mulling over whether or not I want to withdraw the album from distribution, though I doubt that I will pull it at this point in time.
I wrote a pretty lengthy update yesterday. Imagine my surprise to check the site today and discover I apparently forgot to save what I wrote. Shucks.
Anyhow, we finally got together again this past Tuesday. While we were pretty rough, I thought we did all right. I guess we made it through 12-13 songs before my voice started to give out. As I've said before, it takes me a while to get back into whatever shape my voice has left. We'll most likely practice again early next week. I'll record the practice, take a listen and figure out when we should start working on some live dates.
It looks like the band will finally be getting together for a practice soon. It'll be nice to be making loud rock and roll again!
No update on the remixed/remastered edition of IF I SHOULD FALL combined with WELCOME TO CONCRETE. CDBaby is having some sort of sale on album uploads, so I imagine that will make their uploading process even slower than usual.
I'll be uploading the newly remastered versions of IF I SHOULD FALL and WELCOME TO CONCRETE later today. The difference in sound between the new versions and the old ones is profound. It'll take CDBaby up to a month to begin distributing the album worldwide. I'll let you know, of course, when it's streaming.
Spotify has always ripped-off musicians, excluding, of course, mega-sellers like Taylor Swift or Drake, but they're stooping to a new low now. The company recently announced that they will not pay artists for any of their songs streamed less than a 1000 times in one year. Of the 100 million songs currently on the platform, only about 37.5 million have more than 1,000 streams, meaning that more than 60 percent of all tracks on Spotify don’t reach the threshold.
I know most people these days don't really care a whole lot whether small-time musicians are treated well or not--though I'd like to think BOK fans are different--but I will still urge you to subscribe to Napster, Tidal or Apple Music, all of which pay artists significantly more than Spotify. And, if you really want to help out independent artists, download an occasional song by them.
By the way, the music distribution company DITTO has a page that explains how musicians are paid by the various streamers that you can check out here. Consider this: Napster pays an indie artist about $19 for 1000 streams. Tidal pays about $13. Apple pays about $10. Spotify pays about $4.37 (and nothing if the track is streamed less than 1000 times in a year), and YouTube pays a paltry 69 cents.
I spent a couple hours today remastering IF I SHOULD FALL.
I'm going to take a long time to finish this little project and (at least try to) get the remastering done as well as I possibly can. I think if you were to hear what I've done so far and compare these versions to the version of the album that's streaming now, you'd be amazed at the difference. The “new” versions are much more alive and dynamic than the old ones. I've also decided to include 1999's WELCOME TO CONCRETE which consisted of six songs. They go together well and WELCOME TO CONCRETE deserves its own remastering. Once I'm done, I'll be uploading the whole thing, of course, to all streaming services.
IF I SHOULD FALL has long been one of my very favorite albums of mine. (ALTERNATIVE PRESS wrote in a review of the record that it was “…a masterful merger of beauty and pain, in perfect pop songs with lyrics as hard and bright as diamonds -- in one convenient, easy-to-digest digital pill.”)
I was struggling at the time to record a follow up to 1997's SO FAR IN EVERY DIRECTION but I wasn't able to produce the usual 12-14 tracks, so I decided instead to settle for an e.p. If you don't know what an e.p. is, back in the ‘90s they were quite the thing. Usually a band would take one or two popular songs from a recent album and add 3-4 or more outtakes, live cuts or previously unreleased material to make a nice 15-20 minute record. Some of my favorite ’90s e.p.'s included Pavement's WATERY AND DOMESTIC, the Buzzcocks's SPIRAL SCRATCH, Joy Division's AN IDEAL FOR LIVING, Nirvana's HORMOANING, and the Pixies's COME ON PILGRIM.
Anyway, I'll finish up everything by early next week, if not sooner. So the remastered version will most likely be available in 2-3 weeks. Definitely worth checking out.
I'm sure at least some of you are aware that Apple Records has just released the remixed and remastered versions of the famous Beatles best-of compilations, 1962-1966 (the “Red Album”) and 1967-1970 (the “Blue Album”). If you're an ardent Beatles fan like me, you've most likely already listened to both compilations. But in case you haven't, I'd strongly advise you to at least take some time to enjoy the Red Album because it's truly stunning what producer Giles Martin and his cohorts have done with those old songs using film director Peter Jackson's revolutionary artificial intelligence “de-mixing” software which allowed Martin to take a mono song like their first single “Love Me Do” (no true stereo version existed) and separate all of the instruments and vocals and mix them down into a genuine stereo track. It's truly amazing.
There are a ever-growing number of online A.I. instrument/vocal separator programs available for everyone, but I've used most of them and I'm thus far unimpressed with the results. They certainly can't claim to work even remotely as well as Jackson's software. That's a shame because I'd love to be able to go back to many old BOK albums and separate all of the instruments and vocals and remix and remaster them again.
Which brings me to the 1998 e.p. IF I SHOULD FALL, still easily one of my very favorite Book of Kills albums. I listened to most of it last night (something I hadn't done in years) and I was shocked at how poorly mixed and mastered several of the songs were. I have no way to play the multitrack versions of almost any BOK albums before 2014's RIDING THE ECHO DOWN, so having access to a de-mixing program on the level of Peter Jackson's would be beyond my wildest dreams. I can only hope the consumer level de-mixers will get significantly better in the near future.
That said, I do have access to digital masters of many older BOK albums and I'm pretty certain I'm going to do my best to give IF I SHOULD FALL a proper remastering.
No news really.
On this day in 2002 (twenty-one freaking years ago??!?!!!), BOK played Alston's in Harrisonburg, Virginia. The set list: Accidentally Naked, Cave In, Caroline, Bikini Radio, Gemini, Then I Kissed Her, Face, To Dream A New Dream, Running, Simple World, Clever, Jesco White, Money.
Interesting set. I don't remember anything about this particular show, however.
“I really can’t remember solos very well and I don’t really care; sometimes I’ll start a solo the same way just to get by for a few minutes while I’m thinking or feeling my way into something different.” – Tom Verlaine
I was made aware last evening that no one could download the seven live tracks from the recent show at the Golden Pony. Sorry...an oversight on my part. They're now available for free download. I've also included a never before released
Not a whole lot to report, kids. We're still trying to figure out what we're going to do while Dan's hand heals. We've tossed around some ideas for some additional songs to add to our repretoire. I want to attempt to line up a few shows but, again, we're just not sure right now what the time frame would be for the band to be back at full strength. We could be talking about nothing in the works till the new year.
On this day in 2004, Brian Temples, Dustin Bugg, Mike Chiarello and Jim played the first of two shows as a band at The Little Grill. This was a ten year reunion gig of sorts, since Jim, Brian and Dustin formed ¾'s of the original Book of Kills way back in 1994. They'd play a second show, actually a live broadcast on James Madison's FM station, WXJM, about a month later and then unfortunately drift apart with Jim joining Johnny St. Ours, Aaron Farrington, and Billy Hunt to form The Karl Rove. Unbelievably, this incarnation of BOK was criticized at the time for being “too professional”. Brian, Dustin, Mike and Jim were undoubtedly the most adventurous of all Jim's Book of Kills line-ups.
The set list: Because Because, Lost, To Dream A New Dream, Fat Woman Lying In The Street, 26 Heavyweight Bleeders On Parade, Idiot Planet-->Wet Dog Shakes #3, You Go To You And I By Me, Killing Time Again, Who Dares Defy The Hand Of God to War, Stanley The Steamer, Bad Person, Jesus Was An Alien, Waiting On A Friend, Jailbreak, I Hang Heavy, Fade, Ah Ahh Ahhh!, I Start To Fall, Scrapezoid, Abandoned, Don't Stop The Scream.
We're sort of in limbo right now, for obvious reasons, trying to figure out just exactly what we need to do next. Randy and I have tossed around a couple ideas for some new songs. It's hard trying to figure out when to schedule any new shows. I'll keep you guys posted.
If you guys knew everything that has befallen this band over the past few weeks...
I'm not going to go into some of the stuff that we've had to deal with but I will tell you that this past Monday, Dan (our drummer, of course) severely cut his hand on a table saw. He was obviously going to be unable to play drums for weeks, if not months. So what were we going to do? Randy and I put our heads together and came up with a short list of three men who might be able to fill in for Dan with only four day's notice. We settled on who we thought was the best choice...Randy's brother, Zack, who you might recall was the second drummer in Fear + Whiskey. Incredibly, Zack agreed to help us out. Not only did he help us out, we ended up giving one of BOK's greatest performances with Zack only having two short practices to settle in. It was a great night for Book of Kills. The crowd was absolutely super. And Southern Culture on the Skids wasn't half bad either!
I've been busy on and off all day and the recording I made of the show was kinda messed up (my guitar was almost inaudible) because of where I had to place the recorder. So I've got to create a separate channel with my guitar boosted through some judicious use of equalization and compression and overlay it on top of the existing recording. That'll take a while. But when I'm done, I will be sure to post the entire show (it was only about a half an hour) on the music page.
This has been a very very tough week for a variety of reasons, that I won't get into right now. That said, we'll be practicing tomorrow (Sunday) and next Thursday as we prepare for our show next Friday the 13th at the Golden Pony in Harrisonburg, Virginia, with Southern Culture on the Skids. We'll be competing for ticket buyers with Taylor Swift who's debuting her Eras concert tour film in movie theaters the same night. I'm thinking, however, that we probably don't share a whole lot of fans.
"In my opinion, the only way to conquer stage fright is to get up on stage and play. Every time you play another show, it gets better and better."
"I have so many indie bands on my iPod. What I don't really understand is the attitude that if a band is unknown, they're good, and if they get fans, then you move on to the next band."
"I leave the genre labeling to other people. I really do. If I were to think too hard about it, that would stifle me creatively. If you think too hard about who other people want you to be as an artist, it stops you from being who you want to be as an artist."
-- Taylor Swift
Sorry if I'm disconcerting visitors to bookofkills.com with several theme changes over the last couple weeks. I've been experimenting with various looks for the site. I can't promise that I'm done.
Lindsey Buckingham was born on this day in 1949. I've always admired Buckingham's creativity in the studio. While he's hardly the sole reason for Fleetwood Mac's mind boggling success in the '70s and '80s, I think it's safe to say without him the band would never have attained the levels of creative achievement and popularity they experienced during his tenure with the group. Though their glory days were long past by the time he was removed from the line-up in 2018, essentially Fleetwood Mac might as well have folded up their tents and headed home after Buckingham's ouster.
The strange sprawling experimental double album TUSK, a completely left-field follow-up to the massive selling RUMOURS, has always been a favorite of mine. In some ways, I think it's the WHITE ALBUM of the '70s.
"I didn't take lessons, and I don't know my scales."
"I don't read music. I've never had a lesson. I don't know anything about music other than what my inner knowledge is."
"All of my style came from listening to records."
"Creating a set list is like making a running order for an album. Certain things get pitted against one another that make more sense. One song sets another one off, or it might diminish it. You're just constantly looking for the next thing that's gonna make sense in a particular place."
"I'm not that knowledgeable with the guitar. I just find ways that are pretty creative, but it's all within the framework and the limitations of what I can do."
-- Lindsey Buckingham
Had a very good time last night in Staunton at the Clocktower playing with Wax Bats. You can listen to our entire show on the Music page.
I'm pushing myself to practice on my own. Not an easy thing for me. We hope to practice tomorrow (Thursday). Our next show, of course, is this Friday at The Clocktower in Staunton, Virginia.
Life continues to throw body blows but we're doing the best we can to absorb the punches and keep on keeping on.
I've "re-discovered" a small cache of BOK/Karl Rove posters and I'm in the process of uploading a number of them to the poster page. Some pretty cool stuff. Check them out if you haven't already. I'll continue to upload more as I come across them.
If you haven't already, check out the cool poster (scroll to the bottom of the page) Staunton, Virginia artist Grail Ogzewalla created for the September 29 show. Book of Kills has always been lucky to have a number of great artists who've created memorable posters for our shows and this latest one is no exception.
We hope to get at least one more practice in before the show at the Clocktower next Friday. We'd planned to get together last night (Thursday), but life got in the way, as it's often wont to do.
We had a really good practice last Tuesday. Not without its blemishes here and there, but nobody's perfect, not least of all Book of Kills!
Don't forget two big shows coming up soon: BOK & Wax Bats at the Clocktower, Friday, September 29, 2023, at 8:00 P.M. and BOK & Southern Culture on the Skids at The Golden Pony, Friday, October 13, 2023, at 7:00 P.M.
We were scheduled to practice again last night but a half an hour before it was time to head into Harrisonburg to George's house (where we practice), the heavens opened up. I don't drive in the dark in the pouring rain on the interstate anymore and I hate getting soaked and then trying to play music, so I unfortunately cancelled things. Rescheduled for Thursday.
Two shows are rapidly approaching. I've managed to "force" myself into practicing each day in between the days the whole band gets together.
Another good practice last night. I'll put up a couple songs (from last night) on the music page if you want to hear them. Randy, by the way, got a new amp that sounds (and looks) really good.
Good practice last evening.
Book of Kills will open for rock'n'roll legends Southern Culture on the Skids, October (Friday) the 13th at the Golden Pony in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Tickets are $18. We'll also being playing a show in Staunton in late September. More on that later.
I'm hopeful we'll be able to get in a practice tonight.
Haven't done this in a long while, so I thought I'd check out CDBaby (the company that handles the distribution of all Jim Shelley/Book of Kills material) and see who was listening to what...
Ten most popular Book of Kills/Fear + Whiskey albums thus far in 2023:
(1) BIG BUSINESS MONKEY, VOLUME SIX (2018)
(2) THE FEAR + WHISKEY ANTHOLOGY (2013)
(3) JIM SHELLEY LIVE! VOLUME ONE (2018)
(4) I KNOW WE CAN SAVE OUR WORLD (2020)
(5) IN MY ROOM - THE BEST OF BOOK OF KILLS, VOLUME ONE (1994)
(6) SONGS FOR A GONE WORLD (1994)
(7) SPLENDID TRIGGER (1996)
(8) I CAN'T GIVE YOU ANYTHING BUT LOVE (2005)
(9) ALL ABOUT YOU (2002)
(10) ARMY OF LOUD (2021)
Not familiar with one (or more) of the above records? Wondering why in the world BIG BUSINESS MONKEY, VOLUME SIX is the most listened to BOK album in 2023? Check one (or all of them) out today!
I said something to the other guys about a month ago about trying to practice whenever possible because due to the increased illnesses that seem to afflict everyone come the fall, it would be "catch as catch can" trying to get all four of us together and that's turned out to be the case. No practice tonight. Maybe Tuesday.
It looks like we have a couple of pretty cool shows coming up over the next month. More about those soon when I get a little more information.
Yeah, I know...if you're reading this "today" (August 22), you're wondering why I'm posting tomorrow's entry a day earlier. Honestly, I just figured I'd probably forget to update the news tomorrow (or today if you're reading this tomorrow...confused yet?) because today's date is actually a fairly big one in this little band's history...
On this day in 2003, BOK played (at the SoundQuilt Festival in Gore, Virginia) likely the final gig of the popular line-up that featured Jim, Casey Firkin, Jane Firkin, Randy Simpson and Bill Bird. It was a fun gig, some of which you can listen to on whatever streaming service you might subscribe to. To do just that, check out the album JIM SHELLEY & BOOK OF KILLS LIVE (2001-2003). The set list: Wooly Bully, Cave In, Style-->Bad Person, Caroline, Nelson-->Then I Kissed Her, Sweet William, AntiMan, Clever, Jesco White, Sweet, Why Won't You-->Can't Stand It Anymore, Don't Stop The Scream. Very good show and an appropriate ending for a very good band.
Sorry about yet another week's gap in updates, but good gosh, I hope you're used to those by now!
The main reason for the latest delay has been a bout on my part with what I'm guessing is the influenza that's started circulating in the Shenandoah Valley. It's no joke. I've been ill with it since this past Saturday. I've had to cancel practice Sunday and again tonight 'cause I doubt I could open my mouth to sing without something unpleasant happening. We'll shoot for this coming Sunday.
Solid practice last night. We added an old BOK classic, "Never Be Like You". By the third or fourth run-through, we were already close to getting it down.
I have sort of turned getting shows over to Randy and George, though I guess I need to be more proactive myself. Anyway, I was sort of bemoaning the fact (to myself) that I've only played 140-some shows since BOK formed in 1994. Then I came across a little news story about Carly Simon and it turns out that, despite the fact that she's of course a world famous artist with numerous hit songs to her credit, she has only performed live 42 times in her entire career. The great XTC only played 66 shows. Kate Bush only performed live 32 times. Nick Drake played perhaps fifty gigs in his lifetime, though no one knows for certain. There are many more examples, so I guess I don't feel so bad after all.
"Live performance is everything. First of all, I have terrible stage fright. But beyond that, once the music starts, it's OK." -- Fantastic Negrito
"I love, love, love live performance. It's like walking a tightrope without the net. You better be on point; you better be balanced. You better have rehearsed it and seen it from every vantage so you can do what you do best." -- Sheryl Lee Ralph
"In most cases, my favorite Jethro Tull songs will be determined by how I feel about them as live performance songs, not by the recorded identity." Ian Anderson
“As music becomes less of a thing–-a cylinder, a cassette, a disc–-and more ephemeral, perhaps we will begin to assign an increasing value to live performances again.” ~ David Byrne
(By the way, I'll be chopping off a lot of entries on this page again soon.)
We'll practice tonight. Might try out a new (old) song.
It looks as though we'll be playing 9/29 in Staunton. More later.
One of the greatest, most influential rock musicians of all time passed today. Farewell, Robbie. What a guitarist and songwriter you were!
"It's easy to be a genius in your twenties. In your forties, it's difficult."
"At a young age I thought, 'Wow, that fiddle thing, that's pretty cool. That mandolin is great. These drums, I like these drums... ' They were Indian drums. And I was saying, 'But that guitar. That guitar. Girls are going to like that guitar.'"
"When you look at that period when Warhol and the Velvets and the Stones were doing things, it was this intersection of art and music. And then it went away."
-- Robbie Robertson
Good practice last night cut short a bit by my blowing out my voice. That's something that rarely happens to me but when it does, my voice is gone for at least twenty-four hours. However, if you'd like to listen to a couple songs from last night's practice (both of which we're still working on), just go to the music page...
For those of you whose curiosity about Emitt Rhodes was piqued after the 7/19/2023 entry, check out the short (less than an hour) documentary made by a fervent Italian fan about Rhodes on YouTube called Emitt Rhodes: The One Man Beatles.
Slow week. Vacations. Life. Etc.
Jerry Garcia was born on this day in 1942. He died in 1995 at the age of 53.
Book of Kills played the now defunct Outback Lodge in Charlottesville, Virginia, along with The Plague Dogs on this day in 2002. The Outback was a favorite place of mine to gig, though BOK only performed there 2-3 times. Abandoned, Cave In, Accidentally Naked, Style-->Bad Person, Face, Killing Time, Running, To Dream a New Dream, Money, Gemini, Jesco White, Sweet, Medley, Don't Stop the Scream.
“You do not merely want to be considered just the best of the best. You want to be considered the only one who does what you do.” -- Jerry Garcia
Fun, short practice last night. I was very tired from various things that had gone on pretty much all day but we did work on the newer material and that was good!
Got an enquiry last week about the BOK podcasts. They're extremely time-consuming to write and put together and I'm more focused on the band right now to the point where I just don't think I otherwise have the time right now to put a fourth one together, though I think when I do it will probably focus on how a band learns a new song.
"There is nothing so stable as change."
"At times in my life the only place I have been happy is when I am on stage."
"You're going to die. You're going to be dead. It could be 20 years, it could be tomorrow, anytime. So am I. I mean, we're just going to be gone. The world's going to go on without us. All right now. You do your job in the face of that, and how seriously you take yourself, you decide for yourself. " -- Bob Dylan
"Ultimately, at the end of the day, everything is about the song, to me. You don't impose yourself on the song. You're there to support the song. And it doesn't matter if you're doing like a metal fusion project or you're doing the simplest, you know, like a Barbra Streisand ballad like 'Evergreen' or something like that. You find what that song wants from you and then that's what you bring to the table." -- Leland Sklar (from a YouTube/Dead Wax interview)
Emitt Rhodes died at the age of 70 on this day in 2020. Few people, I'm pretty sure, even know who Rhodes was, let alone have ever heard his music, but he was both a lo-fi/home recordist pioneer and a musician and songwriter of uncommon ability. He was hugely important to me. His first solo, self-titled effort which he wrote and recorded completely by himself (and which is the equal of most pre-Revolver Beatles albums) proved to be one of the greatest records of the '70s and an exceptionally influential one for the lo-fi and outsider movements of the '80s and '90s. In 1973, after falling prey to his record company's absurd demand that Rhodes hand them six records of all new material in three years and their subsequent decision to sue him for $250,000 (the equivalent of nearly $1.5 million today) after it became apparent that he was incapable of generating that much new material, Rhodes simply went silent for 43 years. He re-emerged at the age of 66 with an all-new critically acclaimed record, featuring cameos by Aimee Mann, Richard Thompson, Susanna Hoffs, and many others. Sadly, just as his star was once again rising, Emitt died in his sleep.
The reconstituted Plague Dogs (featuring current BOK bassist George Nipe III and former BOK drummer Garfield Banks) , the Hot Pockets (featuring former BOK bassist Bill Bird and current BOK guitarist Randy Simpson), and, of course, Book of Kills, all played Saturday night at Rock Steady in Harrisonburg. The heat/humidity was pretty intense. I sweated buckets. I'd also been dealing with a myriad of other issues earlier that day and after we'd finished our set, I was convinced the show had been a disaster, at least on my part. But listening to the recording the next morning, I realized that we'd powered through the show in pretty good fashion. I'll upload a couple of songs from the performance in a day or two on the Music page.
We're working on a few more shows in the near future. Stay tuned.
I stumbled across a couple fascinating interviews with David Bowie where he talks extensively about songwriting. Below are a few of his thoughts from those interviews:
“I have never had a problem with the musical side of writing songs. Melody and song form, structure—the musical structure of the thing--it does literally seem to flow out of me. I never stop that. I can be with a piano or a guitar or some instrument for maybe half an hour and I will find that I’m writing something new, whether I want to or not. I mean, it just seems to be there. It seems to be like a tap in that way and obviously it’s just something that’s really deeply within me.”
“Strangely enough, it took me a very very long time when I was young to actually learn how to write songs, how to be a songwriter. I didn’t think any of the other things came naturally to me. And I think that I worked incredibly hard for maybe ten years before I knew how to write songs properly. And I did [make] some ghastly mistakes in the beginning.”
“Never play to the gallery. But you never learn that to much later on. But never work for other people at what you do. Always remember that the reason you initially started was that there was something inside yourself that you felt that if you could manifest it in some way, you would understand more about yourself and how you coexist with the rest of society. I think it’s terribly dangerous for an artist to fulfill other people’s expectations. I think they generally produce their worst work when they do that.”
— David Bowie
I think we'll practice Tuesday and, if possible, Thursday, as we get ready for a show at Rock Steady this Saturday. Should be an interesting evening. Randy's other band, The Hot Pockets, (led by former BOK member Bill Bird) will deliver a slate of tasty cover songs. George's other group, The Plague Dogs (featuring former BOK drummer Garfield Banks), will play a short set as well. Then Book of Kills will close out the night. I think we'll be including at least a couple new songs in our set.
"The power of live music is vast. Live music is a wonderful way to spend some time." -- Chris Thile
"Live music is healthy." -- John Lydon
"Musicians are there in front of you, and the spectators sense their tension, which is not the case when you're listening to a record. Your attention is more relaxed. The emotional aspect is more important in live music." -- Brian Eno
Nope, I wasn't making it up. "World's All Wrong (2018 Remix)" was indeed far and away the most listened to Book of Kills song in Russia in the month of June. Now, when I write "most listened to Book of Kills song", we're not talking Taylor Swift numbers here, but we are talking hundreds of streams. And for BOK, "hundreds" is good. At least in Russia.
Where in the heck did June go?
"Do whatever you do intensely. The artist is the man who leaves the crowd and goes pioneering. With him there is an idea which is his life." – Robert Henri
"Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art." – Andy Warhol
"I’m not sure why I find it beautiful to devote oneself obsessively to the creation of something that doesn’t matter, but I do." – John Green
"I have been absolutely terrified every moment of my life—and I have never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do." —Georgia O’Keeffe
"An artist must be free to choose what he does, certainly, but he must also never be afraid to do what he might choose." – Langston Hughes
Productive, if a little sloppy, practice this past Tuesday. We'll be working out a set list the next time we come together.
The BOK set at Rock Steady for July 15, is going to feature an unexpected surprise. That's all I can say right now, but if you're a fan of the band, you're going to want to show up for this performance. Contact me if you haven't gotten an invitation yet.
I think we'll practice tomorrow. As it stands, the show at Rock Steady will feature three bands--the Hot Pockets at 7:00, the Plague Dogs reunion featuring George Nipe III and former BOK drummer Garfield Banks around 8:00-8:30, and Book of Kills around 9:00.
On this day in 2009, Book of Kills played one of their final shows as the trio of Jim, George Nipe III and Mike Hicks. David Tekip would rejoin the band for four shows and then the band would finish its two year run with a packed, blow-out show at the infamous Little Grill in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
The set list: River Of Blood, Killing Time Again, Placebo, Different, Fade, Fat Woman Lying In The Street, Because Because, Blue Man (with Billy Brett), So Tired, Little Metal Toys, Stanley The Steamer. It's funny...I remember recording a number of the shows this band played but I can hardly find any of them. Too bad! Oh well...you can still check out KILLING TIME AGAIN! and JIM SHELLEY LIVE! VOLUME ONE on Spotify or Apple Music, or whatever streamer you use, for some great live material.
Since you've probably been wondering...the current number one Book of Kills song (and it's not even remotely close) in Russia right now is "World's All Wrong (2018 Remix)". Somehow that seems very, very appropriate.
There's a "new" track available on the Music page right now that you ought to check out if for no other reason than the titanic guitar solo that brings the song to a foundation shaking close! Actually, it's hardly new. Rather it's "How Dare You Say You Care" from 2020's I KNOW WE CAN SAVE OUR WORLD.
Happy first day of summer!
Fun practice last night. We mainly worked on the newer material that we haven't really gotten completely down yet. We'll probably double up practices over the next three weeks before the show at Rock Steady.
Haven't practiced in a while. Tonight's the night, if the creeks don't rise.
I know over the last year or more, I've sporadically claimed I was working on a new song and blah blah blah, but I can honestly say now that I have indeed begun work on a new (ostensibly three part) song that will lead to some sort of recording sessions down the road. I'm only going to make a spare acoustic demo and let the other guys take a listen. If they decide they'd like to try the song out, we'll then see what we can do to bring it into this world for all to hear. Perhaps we'll even end up doing some recording.
I'd certainly be remiss not to mention that on this day in 1942, the great musical genius and Beach Boys co-founder, Brian Wilson was born. Brian is regarded as an important figure for many music genres and movements, including the so-called "California Sound", rock and roll, art pop, psychedelia, chamber pop, progressive, punk, outsider, sunshine pop, post-punk, indie rock, emo, dream pop, J-Pop, and chillwave.
"I'm not a genius. I'm just a hard-working guy."
"If you're going to write a song, try to get together with a collaborator because it's better to write with collaborators."
"Probably not much of a song left in me, you know, if any, because I've written so many--some 250 songs or 300 or whatever it is."
-- Brian Wilson
Since, knowing me, I probably won't get back to this page for several days, if not longer, I'll do tomorrow's entry as well...
On this day in 2000, Book of Kills (Casey and Jane Firkin, Jason Hevener and Jim) returned to performing live, after a three and a half year hiatus, with a brief, enthusiastically received set at The Little Grill in Harrisonburg, Virginia. The set list: Don't Stop the Scream, Because Because, I Hang Heavy-->Down in Flames, If I Asked You, Rain, I Was Wrong, Fade, Stanley the Steamer, Killing Time Again, Little Bit of Soul, Beat on the Brat.
That particular band, along with a couple line-up changes (Jason would leave the band in July, while Bill Bird and later Randy Simpson would join it), would go on to play more shows by far than any other incarnation of BOK. I was quite determined back then to get as many gigs as I could scrape together. Now, in my old age, not so much.
We're close to halfway through 2023. Jeez! Where does the time go? Here is the BOK "top 20" for the first half of the year on Apple Music "in order": (1) Dink's Song, (2) Shake My Tree (THIS IS YOUR BOOK OF KILLS version), (3) Sweet (Live), (4) I'm Not There, (5) Cocktail Sweet Charm Princess, (6) The Girls and Boys of the Army of Loud, (7) The World Is Unchanged (Only More Naked), (8) When the Night Falls, (9) Hello Teenage America, (10) Heart's Wisdom Has The Power, (11) The Danger That Can Drive You Home, (12) I Know We Can Save Our World, (13) Negative Creep (Live 1995), (14) The Night John Lennon Died, (15) Get Right Down to the Hoo Doo Boom Bay Boom!, (16) When You Call I'll Come, (17) The Future Is Cracking (You Better Get Packing), (18) Two Odds Make An Even, (19) Then I Kissed Her (Live), and (20) Social End Product.
I'll post the top-20 for Spotify next time, whenever that is.
Had a brief but productive practice last Sunday as we try to get ready for what could be a series of shows in late summer and early fall.
We've added 3-4 new songs and they're coming together slowly but surely. We have a show in less than a month. This one will be "invitation only", but if you'd like to be included on the guest list, feel free to contact me, or anyone in the band, and I/we will make sure you're part of the fun July 15.
On this day way back in 2000, Book of Kills (Casey and Jane Firkin, Jason Hevener and Jim) practiced one last time in preparation for BOK's return to live performing with a short gig at The Little Grill in Harrisonburg, Virginia, the next night, Friday, June 16.
"The guitar is coming back in popularity. There's no question about it. When you look at how many guitars were played on The Grammys, for example, or Coachella, I mean, there's tons of young musicians playing guitar. And 2020 and 2021 were record years for new guitar sales and what that means is young people who picked up guitars during the pandemic over the next five to ten years are going to become the next generation of musicians. We're going to see the next generation of pop stars and indie artists and singer songwriters and country stars who started playing guitar and making music during the pandemic." -- Rhett Shaw (from his YouTube channel)