Homegrown: Birds and Batteries

photo credit: Matthew Washburn

photo credit: Matthew Washburn

Originally published by SF Station on 8/30/11. This album remains one of my favorites, and it’s an absolute shame Mike Sempert remains a relative unknown musician. 

Excerpt: In a word, Birds & Batteries recordings are lush. Layer upon layer of synth, guitars, ambient percussion, harmonies, strings, and seemingly whatever else is lying around the studio. It’s as if each song is a collection of intersecting flight patterns that all land on the same, unexpected runway. Sempert, along with guitarist Christopher Walsh, bassist Jill Heinke, and drummer Brian Michelson know how to deftly navigate unexpected turns.

Read the full article here, buy Panorama immediately, then listen to Sempert’s latest at http://mikesempert.com.

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Before I Was a Nobody (Part 1)

Acoustic_Profile

His future revealed itself to him just off the corner of Lyon and Fulton. Between a Jordanian corner store and a shell of a 3-story Victorian. The apartment was at the bottom of a damp crack of San Francisco housing.

The studio had one room and one window with a view of a wall, but it was new inside, and furnished, though not by Charlie. It had a twin bed, a mini-fridge, a roll-top desk and bright yellow walls. His mother would’ve liked it. It was late, and it was quiet. The homeless monologue could be heard verbatim between the 5 line’s hydraulic brakes. Continue reading

Music Podcasts

One of my favorite projects at BAMM.tv over the past year has been the expansion of our podcast offerings. Perhaps it has something to do with having a dog and constantly taking her to the park/beach/fetch sessions, but podcasts – especially ones that tell stories – are a refreshing break from a video-obsessed culture. Imagination can paint a hell of a picture. Give these podcasts a listen:  Continue reading

BAMM.tv Presents: This One’s for You – Episode 1 – “Stands Still”

This is a project I’ve developed at BAMM.tv (http://bamm.tv). Please check out the website – http://tofu.bamm.tv/ to hear more from Bill DeWitt and and dive deeper into this program. Website includes essays, critical analysis of the lyrics, pictures, and much, much more. Hell, there’s even a suggested reading list.

“Stands Still” (Episode #1) features San Francisco songwriter Phil Lang performing a song about combat for Bill DeWitt, a Vietnam Vet who spent the 25+ years after the war as a substance abuse and family therapist. Lang’s song serves as a doorway into an unflinching conversation covering DeWitt’s harrowing experience in Vietnam, his observations of the long-term effects of war on Veterans, and how the culpability of war is becoming more distant to the civilian public. Shot at the beautiful Albany Memorial Building (Albany, CA).

Driftwood (Demo)

Driftwood (Demo)

“Driftwood”

I’ve been stupid I’ve been so ungrateful

to the dreams fed at my mother’s table

masqueraded on paper wings

tomorrow’s songs now another’s to sing

we were dolled up we were porcelain faces

vowed nostalgia to youth’s disgraces

we danced barefoot under bequeathed chandeliers

waiting in the wings were those reduction years

I have know right now

because all these years of wonder only led to wonder

we had nothing owed and how

then the sun broke up a different town

there were boys for centuries

who saw their future in the myth of the sea

they left their home they left their girl

for just a breath in the brave new world

but you and me, boy, we kept close

we kept known to ourselves

our adventures leather-bound

kept us safe kept us found

I have to know right now

all these years of wonder only led to wonder

if we are all that we owe now

let’s watch the sun slink past the aging town

I’ve been stupid I’ve been so ungrateful

to the dreams fed at my mother’s table

oh but now, my, how I know that now

but in the years between

who I am and what we dream

there is love

there is a love I could not foresee

there is mercy in the things we need


“Keychains”

go on your way now

recede down that unlit walk

there ain’t nothing more to say now

all your revelations lay on the last block

and yes it is raining

but it’s just that richmond mist cleaning stones

so tonight marks the first night, Maria, you walk home alone

you’ve got nothing more to fear now

nothing lies in wait behind your bleeding heart

St. Thomas got his thumb out waiting for his way to the next end’s start

but should you pass a stranger, go on Maria and say hello

when you pass by tonight, Maria, you pass by alone

I stood witness as your keychain grew lighter

but I did not hear a word that you said

I just remember zipping you in that blue blue dress

on the morning of your sister’s wedding day

I stood witness as your keychain grew lighter

but I did not hear a word that you said

I was lost in that kiss

in that blue blue dress

we were such a hot mess that day

so go on your way now

let the radio silence commence

and I don’t want to think about what you see here

at this great distance from recompense

and yes it is raining but it’s just that richmond mist cleaning stones

and a foghorn blows

ain’t that the cliche that we are owed


“Stands Still”

oh my Samuel

don’t you dare lead me on today

too much at stake

let it go

but I just can’t let you go

every body come in

no body gonna to stay

every body promise

a bumper sticker promise

don’t matter what you say just say it with grace

oh my good old days

so romantic when we recreate

let it go

but I just can’t let it go

oh my love will drown you

oh my love will kill

oh my devotion will confound you

oh my love stands still


“The Hunter”

clean streets what I need

Monday is no place for glass at your feet

white walls what I seek

keep me far from this love in need

you don’t feel much like talking today

okay

this ain’t going away

you don’t feel much like talking today

oh brother, even blood

even blood fades

we are the hunters stalking a history

to mount in our mansions over families

we got excuses rabbit-eared and torn

held just like bibles under nervous arms

you don’t feel much like talking today

okay

but this ain’t going away

you don’t feel much like talking today

oh brother, even blood

even blood fades

how many times I’ve run away

this time I should have stayed

clean streets what I need

Monday is no place for glass at your feet

old days what we dream

but old days ain’t what we need


“Yosemite”

I awoke to snow falling on the river

you a hundred miles down the road

I was undelivered

oh Louise, this goddamn need

it still rides along with me

oh Louise, you should’ve seen

all the wonder lost on me

(Chorus)

I cannot quit

tracking down my youth like a capsule in the wilderness

I cannot quit

searching for your legs somewhere sun kissed in the wilderness

we were young but now that’s done

and I’m still on the line

the chains had broke but I’d been busted long before

the switchbacks goddamn they kick back

but I need to see so much more

than all of this

all these things I’ve missed

they fall down

toy soldiers on the ground

oh Louise, you should’ve seen

Yosemite lost on me

(Chorus)

now I know who I was

now I know who I’m not

all I am are these questions, my friends

and they keep me from the love I want

and I can’t keep from looking back

as I fall for the same old traps

all these questions, all these questions my friends

and the answers I’m afraid I’ve got

no more so it goes

so it goes

well it leaves me all alone