Low Level Devo Talking Right Through the Music

Greetings Good Folks, the summer surf is here, my daughter is back from school, life is full and good times are spinning all around. Here’s the rap…

The Cream music concert last week at the Encinitas Library was a true success on many levels! The music fully lifted off and for all of us oldsters it was a wonderful ride through the sonic space that Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, and Ginger Baker lived in for those wild years. For the young musos it was probably cool hanging out with the old pros to experience how they roll with it. The turnout was HUGE and enthusiastic and that made us all feel great. For those audience members it was a FREE show (thanks city of San Diego grant givers) and a full on community happening. Good vibes and inspiring music and we plan to do it again down the road.

Cream concert band photo with (left to right) Duncan, Seth, Jake, Tripp, Sahara, Leonard, Peter, Glen, and John Minchin. photo by Stef Sprague

Cream concert band photo with (left to right) Duncan, Seth, Jake, Tripp, Sahara, Leonard, Peter, Glen, and John Minchin.
photo by Stef Sprague

Up for this week, tomorrow (Thursday) night I make my return to The Roxy for a solo show. It’s been about a month since the last one and I’m stoked to make my way into the enlightened world of garbonzo beans, extremely large food portions, smoothies tagging along hard alcohol spritzers, devoted fans and intense listeners, non devoted fans talking right through the music, and me doing my thing with the guitar. It’s good all the way around and come and join in if you can…

Studying my fingers to make sure they're behaving!

Studying my fingers to make sure they’re behaving!

We’re bringing together the quintet with Tripp, Leonard, Gunnar, Duncan, and myself to play an inspired set on Sunday afternoon at the Shir Energy Music Festival. The event is being held at Tempel Solel in Cardiff and there will be multiple bands playing music, food, and art. Our set is at 12:45pm and look below for more details.

The quintet with Peter, Gunnar, Leonard, Tripp and Duncan.

The quintet with Peter, Gunnar, Leonard, Tripp and Duncan.

that’s it and keep on keeping on, Peter

How Do You Pronounce SWLABR?

Dear Good Folks, last week it was an immersion into the grace note inflections of Chick Corea’s music (killer gig at The Loft by the way) and this week, well quite a different setup. Full blown genre morphing in play!

CreamClaptonBruceBaker1960s

This is the week of CREAM and I’ve been heavy into the research and development of their music, detailing the meter changes and taking note of their threshold of what’s passable for guitar tuning. Hah! These cats are masters and they wrote some inspired music and I’m thrilled to present their sound filtered through our jazz point of view. We’ve got a great concert planned for Friday night, gifted and devoted musicians at this very moment assimilating the music, and all of this will go down at the Encinitas Library. Add in free admission and could there be any other choice of where to be on that night!

I grew up with Cream and most of us guitarists got our start playing the riff from “Sunshine of your Love.” The lick has power and makes you feel connected yet at the same time it isn’t too hard to play. I think I even taught my daughter Kylie this lick when she was a young guitar prankster.

Years marched on and my world was swirling in jazz yet every now and then I’d listen to the Cream records and they’d still hold true. The trio took their music beyond the typical rock/pop moves of the day and they’d add in cool modulation and time signature updates that’d keep me listening. From this I knew there’d be a moment at some point down the way to dive in and see how their music fit into my hands.

And the good news is that time is NOW and on Friday lets all hang out and experience Cream in a whole new way.

Most folks don't know it but for a second I was in the band and taking guitar lessons from Clapton on the side. This is how the cover was supposed to look but alas, things took a different turn. photo morphing by RixGraphix

Most folks don’t know it but for a second I was in the band and taking guitar lessons from Clapton on the side. This is how the cover was supposed to look but alas, things took a different turn.
(I hope you get that this is a joke)
photo morphing by RixGraphix

In this R&D mode I’ve come across some cool little discoveries that totally passed me by in the early days. One of my favorite of their tunes (and one that we’re playing on this concert) is “Badge.” It was written by Eric Clapton and George Harrison for the Goodbye Cream recording and was originally an untitled track. I’ve always wondered where that title came from as it’s never referred to in any of the song lyrics. Check out what I found out:

During the production transfer for the album Goodbye, the original music sheet was used to produce the liner notes and track listing. The only discernible word on the page was “bridge” (indicating the song’s bridge section). Due to Harrison’s handwriting, however, Clapton misread it as “badge” — and the song was titled soon thereafter.
 
Harrison remembered the story differently: “I helped Eric write “Badge” you know. Each of them had to come up with a song for that Goodbye Cream album and Eric didn’t have his written. We were working across from each other and I was writing the lyrics down and we came to the middle part so I wrote ‘Bridge.’ Eric read it upside down and cracked up laughing– ‘What’s BADGE?’ he said. After that, Ringo walked in drunk and gave us that line about the swans living in the park.”
 

Another tune of Cream’s that’s been high up on my playlist is “Swlabr.” Any one out there posses the facial expertise on how you’d form that word in your mouth? It’s linguistic PHD material and I’m way short on schooling to take that one on.

We’ve always just called it “Swablar” and again, this still isn’t a real word and isn’t contained in the songs lyrics. I know these guys we’re psychedelic heads but what’s up? Check it out:

The song’s title is an initialism (I guess an initialism is like an acronym) for “She Walks Like A Bearded Rainbow.”
 
The song’s lyrics talk of a woman who constantly comes and goes out of a relationship with the narrator (“Coming to me in the morning, leaving me at night”); it suggests that although she may appear to be perfect, she is flawed (“You’ve got that pure feel, such good responses, you’ve got that rainbow feel, but the rainbow has a beard”).
 

It’s still pretty far out but I’m digging this new information! We’re playing “Swlabr” on this concert too…

In the band we’ve got Leonard on vocals, Tripp on sax, flute and keyboards, Duncan Moore on drums, Glen Fisher on bass, and me on guitar. Glen is a mentor for some young and gifted musos in the Point Loma area and some of his students will be opening up this concert with a mini set. The group is led by vocalist Sahara Grim with Jake Nuffer shredding on guitar, Seth Irby on bass, Eddy Allen on keys and Alex Allen on drums.

Tripp and I drove down to the band’s Point Loma garage practice room last night and the kids ripped it up!

Rehearsing with the youngsters getting ready to play Cream for the masses. From left to right, top row; Seth

Rehearsing with the youngsters getting ready to play Cream for the masses. From left to right, top row; Glen, Sahara, Alex, and really good young trombone fellow. Middle row; Seth, Jake, Peter, Thomas. Lower row; Tripp, Eddy, and great alto fellow.
photo by Richard Irby (tolerant Dad with his garage transformed over to a band practice space)

We’re also adding a horn section (3 saxes and trombone) for two of the numbers just in case the $0 admission fee was feeling a little too steep. Check out the wicked “Had To Cry Today” with the horns reaching to the stratosphere!

Look below for the gig details and I hope you can make it out!

The start time is 7:30pm even though the library concert listing says 7pm.

Microsoft Word - Peter Sprague Cream poster .docx

And after the big hoopla of the Cream concert I’ll quietly join vocalist Leonard Patton for a trio hit at a new club in San Marcos called Northern Lights. This is on Saturday night and look at the gig calendar for details. Big fun!

Good on ‘ya folks and thanks for reading. And remember, “you’ve got that pure feel, such good responses, you’ve got that rainbow feel”…

best, Peter

Marimbala!

Good Folks, coming to you at a smokey 90 degrees fahrenheit! It’s a cooker and I’m holding my breath!

It was an inspiration to hang out with Nathan East last week at his Guitar Center bass clinic. The guy is musical in everything he does, playing the bass of course but also in his words, in his kindness, with his clever world observations. A true joy! We jammed out on a few tunes and are inspired to continue the revolution! Check out his CD too, a beautiful sonic ride!

Nathan East and me playing and hanging out at the GC clinic.

Nathan East and me playing and hanging out at the GC clinic.

After the show Nate took this selfie with a really cool extendo iPhone holder that made it so the phone was far away. Killer device and a killer selfie!

After the show Nate took this photo with a really cool extendo iPhone holder that made it so the phone was far away. Killer device and a killer selfie!

We’ve been searching the vaults for classic Chick Corea compositional gems and have unearthed a perky little number called “Marimbala”. We’re gearing it for the upcoming hit at the Loft at UCSD. Chick played for 2 weeks at Elarios with Pattitucci and Weckyl back in the day and this tune was high up on their setlist. It was never recorded but he gave me the sheet music and we’re adding it to our playlist. We had a good hang over here with the band and we’re all set for a night of Chick’s aural delicacies. It’s on Saturday night and look below for the details and we hope to see you there!

The Chick groupies with Danny, Justin, Julien, Duncan, Peter and Tripp.

The Chick groupies with Danny, Justin, Julien, Duncan, Peter and Tripp.

Click the vid for how the rundown went down at Spragueland earlier in the week.

Click the vid for how the rundown went down at Spragueland earlier in the week.

that’s it and I’m heading for some ocean lotion…adios, P