Just click on the Album cover to check it out over on Bandcamp.
Like our show, it’s fun and quirky!
And, yes, on many of the cuts on the album you will hear the tones of actual vegetables being played. When playing the street at a festival we like to claim that we are the only musicians out there guaranteed to go home to supper. On some tracks you will hear notes produced by simple one-note end-blown whistles. These are perfect for creating the percussive accent tones heard on Old Vegetation, Rutabaga Blues and on Location 5. Assembling a number of these creates, in effect, a set of pan pipes (no pun intended, though they are all ultimately destined for the pan. We think of the process as ‘Pre-Cycling”. The best known track from the album, Danny Boy, of course, features the slide potato. Also listen for the Whiskey-in-the-Jar-o-Phone, the Capsicum Merliton, the Umbrellaphone and the rattlesnake-like sounds of the Witchy Sticks!
Side A: In the Raw
1. Hearing is Believing
The Slide Potato (pat.pend.) is Jonathan’s own invention. It is the most versatile vegetable we play. As heard on this track, it can be made in half a minute; and it can be played in any key. Carving a mouthpiece, as heard on this narration, can make the potato easier to play but is not essential
In fact, Jonathan has developed a new style of manufacture which leaves creates a handle for the slide and requires no carving for the mouthpiece. It is a more elegant instrument. For you musicologists out there we point out that this new version of the Slide Potato is perhaps the ultimate melodic veggie instrument — in that it can be made entirely of one entire naturally occurring item with nothing added or discarded.
2. (Gimme that) Old Vegetation
After he had laid down a lap steel track for us, we invited Steve Cohen to play something on banjo. We really did not have anything specific in mind more than an old-timey song we could play vegetables with. Something traditional; folk, mountain gospel … ‘Gospel?’ Steve leaned back and began to pick and sing and we scurried to find pen and paper. A flurry of jotting, laughing, picking, and singing ensued and an hour later we had the foundation track completed. Steve came back later to add in jaw harp and bass. He wants to let everyone know that he actually thinks spinach is great; it just takes a fall here for the sake of comedy.
To complete the feel of the song Dave came in with a washboard and Douglas and Jonathan plays every vegetable mentioned in the song as it is mentioned, with additional accent notes on carrot, yam, and broccoliophone.
3. Rutabaga Blues
Eddy Jeff Cahill was the first of our musical colleagues to get excited about this project and has generously contributed time, energy, and talent throughout. He wrote this tune for us and brought it to the studio in March 2004. Elliot’s washtub adds just the right jug band feeling under Eddy Jeff’s masterful guitar and Doug and Jonathan’s loose jamming on the veggies. The def Dave plays is a large frame drum.
Of all the root vegetables, the rutabaga does not make the best instrument — at least not what we have found in the supermarket. It does not have quite the density or firmness of, say, a carrot or a beet. The rutabaga’s charm is chiefly in its name. For the sake of art, we did lay in a sparing rutabaga track. Ya can’t have the Rutabaga Blues without the rutabaga. Or maybe that’s just why a rutabaga lover has the blues … or maybe it is the difficulty in getting a good tone out of one that gives the rutabagist the blues. It is an open question. No one has written the lyrics yet.
Side A: In the Raw (continued)
Track 4: Wyld Interlude
Just our way of letting the listener know.
Track 5: At the Irish Pub
A comic interlude introducing:
Track 6: Whiskey in the Jar (accompanied on Whisky in a Jar)
Our nickname for the band playing this track is ‘The Whiskey Calliope Circus’. The instruments you are hearing are bouzouki and what we accurately if awkwardly refer to as the Whiskey-in-the-jar-o-phone. It is a Swanee Whistle (or Lotus Flute — an orchestral slide whistle) with the plunger removed and then immersed in Irish whiskey contained in a jar. Just as the plunger controls the pitch in a slide whistle, the level of whiskey does so in this instrument. The drunken effect in the music is due more to the inherent fluidity of the instrument than the presence of whiskey in the studio (in addition to the position of the whistle in the jar, the level of the whiskey is affected by the barometric pressure of the breath in the whistle). As a matter of fact, after a couple of takes it became apparent that the alcohol in the whiskey was dissolving the remnant slide lubricant in the whistle and leaching the color out of the bakelite it is made of. Eyuuck. The whiskey stayed in the jar. The sipping sound at the end had to be faked.
The final verse comes to us from Jim Hancock.
Track 7: Back at the Pub
A comic interlude introducing:
Track 8: Danny Boy (accompanied on Slide Potato)
A tonic-culinary ironic critique of the inherent relationship between the forces of agrarian production, the control of the techno-military infrastructure through absentee mercantile-imperial influences and its impact on the family; with overtones of the tragic vein of cultural self-absorption the arts can sink to representing among any oppressed or victimized people or peoples. Those potatoes are crying their eyes out. It’s deep, man.
See the MusicVideo!
Side B: Over-Produced Sampler
We’ll have some more veggies on the next CD. Meanwhile, follow us ‘round the bend.
Track 9: Location 5
This tune is named for the memory location in the Turtle’s Korg mixing board where the keeper track at the core of this tune was recorded. The bird-like trilling and tweeting are the slide potato. The other whistle tones are the yam and carrot. The rhythmic complexity of Location 5 stretched the actor boys to the limits; at one point Dave had to teach Jonathan his part by tapping the time out on his shoulder. Frank Runyon laid down the brilliant guitar work and Dave covered all the percussion. Listen. Enjoy. Bop.
Track 10: 24/7 (The Ballad of Grendel)
An ode to a fiend. Grendel is the oldest monster in the English Language. Scourge of the Geats, he is finally defeated by the great hero, Beowulf. Just remember: No matter how cool it seems, it’s still bad to be bad. We dedicate this piece to all actors who have ever played these two roles on stage – and to all fans of Beowulf — in the Mud. You know who you are. And Frank and Steve, you rock.
24/7 has become the credit music to the DVD Beowulf — in the Mud! from Theatre in the Ground.
Watch the Music video.
Track 11: I Don’t Want to Stay
Frank again steps to the plate with guitar riffs styled after one of our eccentric concepts. Dave has a whole story about this tune … but you’ll have to wait for the movie. Just picture heartbreak, despair, a whiskey bottle, firearms, shamanic snake visions, and a clown wandering out into the desert playing an umbrella.
Track 12: Smoke
A driving western love chant. The producer really wants it to be ironic, but it just doesn’t seem to be. So don’t go looking for it. Really. No, really, we can be serious if we want to. Just enjoy the song.