Five Somewhat New Songs by Todd Hoke - EP Download

Album #5 here, for those keeping tally of such things. Who keeps the tally keeper? We may never know. Anyway—it’s an EP (which means “Extended Play” which means something more than a single but not as much as an “LP” which means “Long Play” and describes a full length album of ten or more songs though you can get away with eight if one of the ten is a really long one like “American Pie” which isn’t really that long but after you’ve had to sing it a few times time seems to stand still). Hrm…what was I saying?

 

Album #5 here. Mostly new songs. Somewhat new songs, anyhow. This little recording covers a lot of ground: Hammond B-3, friends singing and playing with me, a horn section (yes—again—it was too much fun on Southland to not repeat that action here), and me playing banjo. Specific track by track details are below if you want that level of information. I’m offering this recording only as a download because I think you probably have enough actual physical stuff in your life already (cue George Carlin’s brilliant riffing on our relationship to our stuff).

 

I recorded this in bits and bites spread out over a couple of years at Chris Gage’s studio—Moonhouse Studio—in South Austin. Chris has had a hand in most of my recordings and always brings good energy and wise counsel to whatever I’m trying to accomplish. He’s also extremely talented and has a great head of hair. Worth noting in these notes that Chris engineered, mixed, AND mastered this thing while I sat on the couch in his studio and read him headlines from The New York Times. (Chris likes it when I read headlines from The New York Times to/at him while he’s trying to work.) Chris also played on every track. Is there anything Chris Gage cannot do? We may never know.

 

I had hoped that donating 100% of proceeds from the sale(s) of Southland to the good folks at Feeding America would eliminate hunger in these United States, but it did not. So, I will also be donating 100% of proceeds from the sale(s) of Five Somewhat New Songs by Todd Hoke to the good folks at Feeding America in hopes of fewer kids going to bed with empty stomachs. Let me break that down for you: you get some good music and more kids get to go to bed with food in their stomachs. Have you clicked “purchase” yet?

 

In case you are the sort of person who enjoys detailed details about songs and the recording process, here’s some more informative information…

 

Track #1: “Copley’s El Camino” is a song about the iconic car that was part truck. Or maybe it’s about the idiosyncratic truck that was part car. Whichever. Both. It’s my first “car song” (finally wrote one years after Car Talk stopped recording—behold the roadmap to my success). The song has me playing guitar and singing and Kevin Hall playing drums and David Carroll playing bass and—my favorite part of the song—Chris Gage playing his Hammond B-3 organ. When we recorded this, we got the rhythm section down and then I went back and did a cleaner guitar and vocal track and Chris asked me if I wanted anything else on the song and I told him I’d like something like a Hammond B-3 to which he replied “How about a Hammond B-3?” Yes, please.

 

Track #2: “Granddaddy’s Daddy” is about perspective and symbols and racism and socioeconomic inequalities. That’s what I think it’s about today, at least—check back with me tomorrow. I started writing it after the Confederate Flag came down over the South Carolina State House but didn’t really finish it until I got a banjo and learned the 3 chords that you’ll hear me playing on this track. In addition to me and my banjo you’ll hear Chris Gage playing bass and guitar, Rich Brock playing harmonica (in “3rd position,” I think [sharing that in case any harp geeks happen to be reading these words]), Richard Bowden playing some lovely fiddle, and my good good friends Linda McRae and Jefferson Ross singing (they each take a verse and we come together at the very end of the song). Worth noting that we recorded everything except Linda and Jefferson at Moonhouse Studio—we recorded their vocals at Thom Jutz’s studio over near Nashville (Was that the same trip wherein I bought my Martin? Hm. Time is a slippery fish.). I love hearing Jefferson and Linda singing this song and it makes me proud—very—to hear them wrap their voices around my words.

 

Track #3: “The Strippers in Carthage” was written in the passenger seat as Mrs. Hoke drove us to visit some friends over Nashville way. I was noodling around on my ukulele as we drove along and as we approached the exit for Carthage, Tennessee, we passed a faded billboard for a “gentleman’s club” and seeing that old weathered billboard sent my brain down a trail of wondering how well the entertainers had held up over the seasons. This might be the first song I’ve written that Mrs. Hoke actively disliked for quite a while after I finished it. I think she likes it now—check back with me tomorrow and I’ll let you know. This track has me singing and fingerpicking my guitar and Paul Pearcy drumming and Chris Gage playing bass (some really tasty bass, in fact) and—my favorite part of this song—Peter Keane singing and playing his Gibson. It took a couple of years to get Peter into the studio to do this (because I’m in Austin a couple of times a year at most and Peter has a full and rewarding life beyond playing and singing on one of my little songs). Mrs. Hoke and I used to go hear The Peter Keane Trio as often as we could back when we lived in Austin so I was delighted when Peter agreed to be on this track and was happier still when we were done and I heard the results. His guitar adds just the right amount of tonal sparkle and shimmer to this song and I love how he sings on this. I’m gushing. Sorry. If you’re ever in/around Austin check to see if Peter is playing somewhere—you’ll be glad you did.

 

Track #4: “Me and Him” took a longer than usual time to write because I had a point I wanted to make about homophobia but after several ham-handed attempts I turned loose of that agenda and wrote a love song (making my point without pointing a finger--I hope that’s what it does, anyhow). I finished this song while I was sitting in the middle of Camp Calm at The Kerrville Folk Festival and my friend Russell Fuselier was the very first human to hear it in its entirety and tell me I’d done a good job. I should get Russell to hang around when I’m trying to finish a song more often. We kept the track pretty clean—you’ll hear me singing and fingerpicking and Chris playing his mandolin and accordion. I’m proud of this song.

 

Track #5: “Be Their Them” is the raciest thing I’ve written to date and started out because I had read—for the 317th time—some person lamenting folks deploying “there” instead of “their” (or “they’re”). The horror…the horror. Anyway. I lifted a chord progression from Bob Wills (who undoubtedly lifted it from someone else) and set my lyrics on top. I had it mostly done in a day and played it for Mrs. Hoke when she got home from work. “What the hell is that?” she asked. “It’s a love song,” said I. “No. It ain’t,” she replied. “That right there is a lust song.” She’s probably right. Again. I feel compelled to clarify that there is no foul language anywhere in this song but there is some strong innuendo. So: forewarned and such. You’ll hear me singing and fingerpicking and Paul Pearcy playing drums and Chris Gage playing bass and—yes—a horn section. Hooray for horns. All day long: hooray for horns. John Mills plays clarinet, Mike Mordecai plays trombone, and Oliver Steck plays coronet (catch Oliver having some fun in one of the verses—he slips in some “back talk” on his horn that cracked us up when he did it on the fly in a run-through so we made him do it again for the recording).

 

Okay. That’s all I have to say about this project. I hope you enjoy this recording and that it brings you and yours many many hours of listening pleasure. You will have to play it more than once for that to happen. Thanks.

Sounds Like Me - The Live One

On February 11, 2017, a bunch of folks gathered at the home of Denise and Rick Williams (aka Hillbilly Haiku Houseconcerts) to bear witness to Jefferson Ross recording his first live album. I was on the list to attend and then Jefferson asked if I'd like to (a) open the show for him and (b) record my set. I answered yes to both. So that's what you'll hear here--my 5 song opening set from that evening. You'll likely recognize some of the songs: Gambler's Prayer, Red Haired Boy, and Chickenwashing are on other albums, though I play them a little differently now. A few of you might have heard me play Me and Him live somewhere. And even fewer of you will have heard Mr. Copley's El Camino. Worth noting that Chickenwashing includes a roomfull of courageous heroes sing-yelling "Cock-a-glossolalia-la-doo, y'all" and I'm fairly certain this is the first live recording of that happening anywhere. History in the making. Indeed. And there are stories between the songs because several folks have asked for me to record some of my banter and now--heypresto--I have.

The band is 100% me and I did it in one take because I didn't want to bog down the evening with second attempts and hiccups and missed notes are part of live music. Or recorded music, in this instance. So it's me playing my 1928 Martin 0-18 (first time this guitar has been recorded and it sounds pretty danged sweet) and blowing a bit of harmonica and jangling my toejangler. I should point out that Thomm Jutz is the man who set up the room and ran the board and did the editing and mastering later and I guess I just did so that's taken care of. If you have an opportunity to work with Thomm do it--he's topnotch.

And in case you are reading this and have no idea who I am: my music comes from somewhere between eating guacamole and taking a nap from eating too much guacamole. From late night drives in the rain with Miles Davis on the stereo. From long runs through the wooded hills of Western North Carolina. From the jolt of dewy grass on bare feet first thing in the morning. From the freight train on the other side of town that wakes me up at 2am and leaves me wondering in the dark about destinations and what we each carry with us along the way. Hell...I just write down and sing about whatever I think bears repeating outside of my head.

Lastly: 100% of the money you spend on this download will be donated to the Human Rights Campaign. You can learn about them and their important work to promote lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer equality in these United States at www.hrc.org. Doing this because I'm a very nice person just like my mother has said all along.

Thanks for listening. I hope you dig the set.

PS The photo on the "cover?" That's me and Guthrie sitting on the couch trying to stay out of the way as Thomm was setting up the room. In case you were wondering.

Southland - The Third One

Acoustical. Bluesyfied. Folksyish. Whimsytinged. Countryfried. Songs laid down in the south but--like kudzu and Wal-Mart--creeping beyond the land of sweet tea and collards. Deeply dark darkened depth sits hand in hand with frivolity. Much like life, yes? Please note that every last cent from the purchase of this CD goes to the good folks at Feeding America. You can learn more about their work to end hunger in America at www.feedingamerica.org.

CD Baby is run by real folks. Real nice folks. They volunteer in the community and call their mothers regularly. Buy the CD from them. Thanks.

The Turning of the Wheel - The Second One

The Turning of the Wheel offers up a batch of songs that stretch across a wide range of moods, sounds, and topics. There's a toe-tapping grin for spring's arrival and a slump-shouldered sigh as autumn fades into winter. There's a leisurely stroll down Main Street in Mayberry (attention Andy Griffith Show fans) and a brassy sashay down barlined 6th Street in Austin, Texas. There's a piano lounge jumper for love of a "genuine" woman and a back alley howl for a gambler on his way down. There's even a sing along on Townes Van Zandt's "Heavenly Houseboat Blues." Tasty arrangements + polished production = a recording that will stay in your CD player for some time. Probably until you take it out. Please note that every last cent from the purchase of this CD goes to the good folks at Feeding America. You can learn more about their work to end hunger in the USA at www.feedingamerica.org.

CD Baby is run by real folks. Real nice folks. They have goldfish and potted ferns. Buy the CD from them. Thanks.

UPDATE: Okay. So I've run out of physical copies of this album and won't be making any more (though you might be able to find a used copy on Amazon for a ridiculous price). Or you can download it from CD Baby. Them's the options. Good luck and happy listening.

Headed West on 10 - the first one

Headed West on 10 features songs about West Texas, late-night conversations with bordertown prophets, and idyllic summer evenings; topics that reflect Hoke's life in Texas. You'll also hear songs about intolerance, homelessness, and embracing the life we're given; topics that reveal Hoke's focus on the world beyond his home state. Included are 10 of Todd's own songs, plus a dead-on cover of Townes Van Zandt's song "Marie." Texas Songwriting legend Ray Wylie Hubbard produced the recording, and enlisted top-notch players to lend their talents. Ladies and gentlemen, it's a swell recording. Please note that every last cent from the purchase of this CD goes to the good folks at Feeding America. You can learn more about their work to end hunger in the USA at www.feedingamerica.org.

CD Baby is run by real folks. Real nice folks. They have dogs and children. Buy the CD from them. Thanks.