Jim Trainer

On The Hill Series-Jim Trainer-Oh, Angelina

In Uncategorized on January 3, 2013 at 10:50 am

Sunday night in the hometown, week before Christmas.  Sets at Gunner’s Run in Northern Liberties by yours truly, Phoenix Veil and Kettle Pot Black.
Phoenix Veil does strong, melodic vocals over sometimes drony, sometimes power chords.  One of the things I like about Phoenix Veil is he’s sustaining some of the good qualities of hardcore music, strong&positive melody, but thankfully doesn’t sound anything like hardcore.  I’d been a fan of Kettle Pot Black since before I left Philly, back in 2008/09. Band leader and KPB progenitor Mike Batchelor got up and did his old-timey, fingerpicking thing, sounding typically dynamic and forceful.
Mike sent me this video a couple days later and I was really impressed. The acoustic guitar sounds so full you find yourself looking and re-looking at the screen to be sure that it’s just one guitar. Mike asked if I’d like to come out to Lafayette Hill and do one. I’d be the first of his On The Hill series: a live recording of a song coupled with the video of it being done; but with a rustic feel to it, some film filters, authentic being the operative word of the project.
I took a $40 cab from Fairmount, put a Leadbelly LP up on the table behind me and did the tune. I think there might have been a false start. But then one take and done.

Oh, Angelina
This song, for me, was an experiment.  I wanted to see if I could write a song mechanically, with no prompting of the muse.  The feel I was going for (and by feel I don’t mean anything musical) was the feel of a Dylan tune, “I Feel A Change Comin’ On”.  I basically played the Dylan song until I was comfortable with it and found for my own way inside of it.  The chord progression is the same.  I ended up lifting the title from Bobby D too, although inadvertently.

The tune is in open D with a capo on the second fret.  I feel that with the open tuning the song has a thicker bottom to it.  Open D also offers different voicings for the chords of an oft-repeated (1625) progression.  It gives the chords and strokes of the leading notes some space, some air.  One of the reasons I keep performing this song is b/c of that space.
A big Deep Ellum bottom.

Everytime I play this one I’m not sure how to end it.  Do we find Too-Bad Jim at the train station at the end of the song, as in the beginning; or is it simply a murder ballad, the train station is in his near future, after the trouble with a gun and a wedding ring is over with at the ball?  That’s why the dramatic pause.  Also, I wasn’t sure if I could get it out.  I was digging for it.  In a pack-a-day chest and through a whiskeyed skull, I was digging for that old bluesman’s holler.  I was calling on one of Texas’ oldest troublemakers and progenitor of Americana music and rock&roll, Mr. Huddie Leadbetter.  I think this tune reaches, too.  It stretches out.  It’s calling on an old blues trope with an old blues tuning and sung in a deliver-me-from or take-me-to the devil blues type holler.

Sometimes I walk on this one, an Elmore James type feel, with leading and descending bass notes but there’s too much space in between the lines of the lyric when I do it this way.  And speeding it up doesn’t help.

Generally speaking, all I’m ever doing is trying to emulate the tautness of rhythm that’s inherent in all good blues.  I’m also trying to crack the archetypal code of the blues lyric.  I don’t have the finger picking chops so it’s a crooner.  But, rightfully so.  This song should be a crooner, sung at a wedding.  Probably not her wedding but you get it.

leadbelly saturates

Mike told me to bring something representative of me that we could put in the vid.  Honestly I hadn’t thought beyond getting this Leadbelly LP in the shot.  It was given to me the night before, during a whiskey sotted night of Shellac&Bright Eyes with some old friends.  The end of the night came to soon for the old man-me.  I paid dearly for that glass of bourbon but the music didn’t seem to suffer.  Everytime the vid rolled in production I looked away so I could hear the music better.  It wasn’t until days later that I noticed its eerie resemblance to the LP.  Then I was sure Mike was up to something good with this series.

Hope you like it.  I’m looking forward to more installments from Kettle Pot Track’s On The Hill Series.  Looking forward to sessions with Phoenix Veil and Psalmships.  For you purists (like me) Mike’s made a blog for the audio on Soundcloud.  You can peep some tracks whose videos are still being edited.  Some great live tracks up on there.

I present to you-Oh, Angelina.  Hope you like it.  Thanks!

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