To purchase or sample this collection go to: https://patrickbrayer.bandcamp.com/album/my-sixtieth-shadow

1913 is my dustbowlian stab at the Steinway. I was trying to conjure the spirit of Thelonious Monk without letting talent get in the way. Let’s call it Thelonious Monkey. The piano is the only instrument my mother wanted me to play as a child growing up on a desert egg ranch. So hence I never really played it until after she passed. But it got me to capture a mood I could get no other way, so more or less I am just pretending to play the piano. When we listen to music, although we probably don’t know it, we often think that we control it. I was taking all of that away from you in the sonic dialogue between the keyboard and the voice, forcing the listener to relinquish control of the song, as the bottom dropped out, until you have no choice but to be present in the tragedy. It all just sounds like a joke to speak of it but if you listened to the original recording by Woody Guthrie you will find by comparison that I had indeed moved some molecules around, as well as paying an ancestral tribute to my grandparents who were present there on that very day in history.

1913 Massacre 

Take a trip with me in nineteen thirteen  

To Calumet, Michigan in the copper country

I’ll take you to a place called Italian Hall 

And the miners are having their big Christmas ball

——–

I’ll take you in a door and up a high stairs 

Singing and dancing is heard ev’rywhere

I’ll let you shake hands with the people you see 

And watch the kids dance ’round the big Christmas tree.

There’s talking and laughing and songs in the air 

And the spirit of Christmas is there ev’rywhere

Before you know it you’re friends with us all 

And you’re dancing around and around in the hall

———-

You ask about work and you ask about pay

They’ll tell you they make less than a dollar a day

Working their copper claims, risking their lives

So it’s fun to spend Christmas with children and wives.

In the photo above is my Aunt Mary who is the oldest child in the Calumet picture above. You can see behind them there the Brayer name hand painted on the barn.

A little girl sits down by the Christmas tree lights

To play the piano so you gotta keep quiet

To hear all this fun; you would not realize

That the copper boss thug men are milling outside

Picture here is my Grandmother Mary Cekada with her first husband, Mathew Pryatal who died in 1907 in the mines. My grandfather John Brayer later married her in 1909 and adopted their child Mary. Little Mary was born in 1908, so her mother must have been pregnant when her husband sadly passed.

The copper boss thugs stuck their heads in the door

One of them yelled and he screamed, “There’s a fire”

A lady she hollered, “There’s no such a thing;

Keep on with your party, there’s no such a thing.”

———-

A few people rushed and there’s only a few

“It’s just the thugs and the scabs fooling you.”

A man grabbed his daughter and he carried her down

But the thugs held the door and he could not get out.

———

And then others followed, about a hundred or more

But most everybody remained on the floor

The gun thugs, they laughed at their murderous joke

And the children were smothered on the stairs by the door.

My grandfather (left) with a friend at our egg ranch in Fontana California in the 1960’s

Such a terrible sight I never did see

We carried our children back up to their tree

The scabs outside still laughed at their spree

And the children that died there was seventy-three

The piano played a slow funeral tune,

And the town was lit up by a cold Christmas moon

The parents, they cried and the men, they moaned,

“See what your greed for money has done?”

Written by: Woody Guthrie

Pictured above (front row) are the Brayers (L-R my Aunt Rose, my grandmother Mary, my aunt Mary, my grandfather John Brayer, and my aunt Ann) circa 1913 whom were present at the incident of which Woody Guthrie wrote about in his song 1913 Massacre, occurring in the Coppermine town of Calumet Michigan. The gentlemen pictured behind them were the boarders of their rooming house. It was a common practice in those days to include inhabitants of your establishment in your family portraits. My grandfather saved his money from working in the copper mines and eventually bought a farm in Marshfield Wisconsin, on which my father was born in 1921.

Empty Cage is a eulogy piece I composed for my dear friend and mentor Chris Darrow (1944-2020). To my knowledge the last time Chris performed live on stage it was just him and I at the 60th Anniversary of The Folk Music Center and Museum. We were aptly sandwiched in between sets by Ellen Chase, with her son Ben Harper, and Uncle Ruthy from KPFK. That was only one of the many honors he has bestowed upon me over the thirty odd years of our friendship. I posted a lengthy piece concerning the imagery of this song on a separate blog entry. https://patrickjohnbrayer.wordpress.com/2020/03/26/song-eulogy-for-chris-darrow-1944-2020/

Instrumentally on this track, and all tracks here, I’m playing a Lowden G-23, an Irish guitar which has amazaque back and sides and a sitka spruce top. The weezing tobacco sunburst fiddle is a no name model gifted to me by Stuart Duncan and low-strung with baritone strings like a viola (CGDA). At some point in time I was lucky enough to get hard boiled pulp fiction writer Mickey Spillane to sign it on the face. I was a little afraid approaching him. From reading his novels you’d think he might just as soon punch you with the butt of his tommy gun. But he was as sweet as he could be and sported a silvering flat top haircut that I hadn’t seen the likes of since all the Texas U ex-patriot football coaches back at Fontana High School. The coaches always standing around in a huddled group primping their hair like a barrel full of fuller brushes. The banjo plunk featured here is a no name tenor with a real calf-skin head that you can only get at the Folk Music Center in Claremont, and it proudly sports a ‘mother of toilet seat’ fingerboard, with a peghead overlay which reads “The Fontana Land Company, Dank Forces Model”.

photo by Patrick Brayer

Empty Cage

Lion at my doorstep, but I am not afraid

Light as green as money in the bamboo shade

Foothills kneel in wonder at a door that need not close

And I’ll leave my empty cage behind me when I go

———-

I feel lighter now / than any note that you might choose

Freedom is just a word that we’re forever free to use

Coyotes are to whipping boys what neon is to sin

And I’ll leave an empty cage behind me for every place I’ve been

And I’ll leave my empty cage behind me when I go

———-

There’s a salmon colored nomad pulling up beside the curb

There’s spirit in the hillsides for every weed and herb

I’ll write every last word down for you in case you might be stoned

I’ll leave my empty cage behind me, a rusty hinge it moaned

And I’ll leave my empty cage behind me when I go

————-

Hot plate in the casbah and I’ve been up all night

I’m a disciple to my coffee / I kiss and hold it tight

I once beat a path though the orchard, left a blossom scented clue

Now I’ll leave my empty cage behind me, the bars are painted blue

I’ll leave my empty cage behind me when I go

————

Here’s one last drink to my vibration / I won’t spill a drop

I have a six-string calling card / with a Nickel-plated top

Let me have my freedom / I know what the bamboo knows

That I’ll leave my empty cage behind me when I go

I’m free / as the winds blow

I’ll leave my empty cage behind me when I go

Written by: Patrick Brayer (02-02-20)

(photo left: Patrick Brayer / photo right: Charles M. Conlon)

I can’t quite remember how or when it was that I ever became the father of “Pantone and Western Music”, but it’s a title I proudly wear at all graphic arts conventions, always affording me a penthouse suite at The Four Seasons Hotel in Muscoy, or a limo ride to Pedley via Chino. Pantone meaning “all colors” is a system for specifying ink colors used in printing, giving each color in variance a number, this is so that even if your monitor screen is off calibration that you get the exact color in print that you desire. I don’t really care about that but what I do care about how it applies to life. What can I tell you about the song, Butcher Shop Red other than it’s title is supposed to immediately get your attention. The song, (dare we call it a fragmented ballad), is based upon a marriage, as it fails unapologetically to ever visit an actual slaughter house. It immediately establishes the female character with eyes of diamond and each freckle like a child in bed, but quickly turns, in Raymond Chandler noir-fashion, to focus on strangers in black mysteriously awaiting in a car outside, while she looks into a chalice-like fire inside, while as a palate cleanser death is haphazardly mentioned in passing. Then the next scene goes surreal, (think Citizen Kanes and Rosebuds), panning to her at a cosmetics counter searching for a lipstick shade of the title of the song. Then the camera pans its attention on the husband figure with his benediction fish and a cold and silver dish. Although it doesn’t explain exactly what pantone shade of silver, or if it reflects the fruit, it still grabs our curiosity. Bloodshot red? Is she on a bender, or is it shot through by an arrow, perhaps William Tell style, and not as originally thought, bobbing for apples in the grease fire twilight of the garden of Eden. Then in marches the father with his hog knife (my grandfather from Slovenia was a pig farmer) and the grandmother nostalgically prepares a fryer for dinner just as Red’s husband in the story burst through the fourth wall to tell us, in first person account, about the age lines on his face with pirate ship connotations, letting us know that time is ticking. Then the story is handed back finally to the invisible narrator for the moral conclusion of the story, probably in the voice of Vincent Price, “Maybe everyone’s lying to you”, closing, moth wing and pale pages telling Jesus’ words in, you guessed it, butcher shop red.

People are always asking the meaning of a song of the author, which I usually translate to mean “do all the work for me”. What I did above as example I did just off the top of my head. It is not there to be believed, it’s just an example of what it might mean. I try to write things open enough that you might throw your own life into it and see what sticks. It could be life altering or it could be gibberish, I’m in no position to care. I liken it to the old backyard warning that when a human touches a baby bird that has fallen from the nest, that the mother will no longer want it. The caring is left up to those in earshot, so that when I release the song it is out of my hands, as it should be. Now apply that to every song you’ve ever heard. Sorry for the homework. 

Butcher Shop Red

Her eyes stolen from diamonds / Each freckle a child in bed

Her hair yet combed by sorrow / A lost shade of butcher shop red

Wind strums the grass, / Blows things clean upright

Car hoods glistening even dread / In the dog-eared starlight

Strangers in black wait in a car outside / Fireplace flame upon your eye

Nothing ever happens that death doesn’t employ / Nor bring upon nor turn back joy

————

Into a cabin view / that only smoke could soften

a voice of a bleary-eyed bird / calling out too often

She’s shopping for lipstick / off the top of her head

asks the lady behind the counter “do you carry” / “ lonely butcher shop red?”

His eyes were a swirling barrel / of blue benediction fish

As she brought in a bloodshot apple / on a cold and silver dish

————

Until you have about the heart / the forgotten feeling of lead

And the skies’ own greasy shade / of pantone butcher shop red

How her father would oft times leave / the house then so tame

But take a hog knife just as readily / to a cigar shadowed game

A fryer on the counter  / awaiting grandmother’s hand

Are these wisteria lines about my face / Or the riggings of a pirate ship well maned?

————–

Maybe everyone’s lying to you / But they’re lying about the truth

The clouds once gold instead / Make a rosy butcher shop bed

I don’t condone the weather / I don’t so far to beg

But the leaves are shaking in a shimmer / like an Elvis Presley leg

Bible pages moth wing pale / King James over hill and dale

Starving to death, they’ve never been fed / Jesus’ words in butcher shop red

Written by: Patrick Brayer (04-08-19)

Roy Ruiz Clayton and Patrick Brayer / Starvation Cafe article / The Daily Report

Bells of San Bernardino is a ballad I co-wrote with my old friend Roy Ruiz Clayton some years back. We had a ragtag duet (rocket to stardom) in the 1980’s, back when we were living in The Inland Empire, sleeping on an endless array of couches, garages, and tear drop trailers, this all for the sake of what we were of the assumption was art. We performed regularly at regional bars, coffee houses, and Folk Festivals, as well as opening several times for David Van Ronk. Thanks to patrons of the arts like my brother Mike, Richard Daversa, and Tim Melendrez, we were able to rehearse rent free and wrote songs from sun up to sun down, stopping only to watch The Rockford Files, plow out the groove furrows on our George Jones and Gato Barbieri records, or engaging in our sole exercise routine, which was to throw knuckle-balls from a homemade mound we created to acompamy the backyard weeds (Close Encounters). The song Bells of San Bernardino was our loose adaptation of the novel The Edge of the Storm by Mexican writer Agustin Yanez (1963). It was originally titled Bells of Thermolito, but I changed it to San Bernardino to localize it.

Clayton was raised in South Fontana as a child but moved to San Diego in his teens. When we first met he was going to high school and living in my brother’s laundry room. He is well known for the striking depth of his songwriting imagery, as if Federico Garcia Lorca were a steelworker buying a pack of smokes from a liquor store on Cherry Avenue, steelmill over his shoulder, in a smoged out Fontana exhalation. Roy cut his teeth playing the same clubs in San Diego as Tom Waits and Jack Tempchin. He has two CDs available which feature such guest players as Marc Ford (Black Crowes), Jason Yates (Ben Harper’s Innocent Criminals), and both being produced by Grammy Award winner Chris Goldsmith (Blind Boys of Alabama). Clayton once served earlier on as resident potter at Mission San Diego de Alcalahas, and most recently has become a sought after painter, exhibited in the Owensboro Museum of Art and others.

link to Roy Ruiz Clayton paintings and CDs: https://royruizclayton.com

Instrumentally this song includes, as well as my Lowden 6 string and bass, a Wiesenborn Hawaiian lap guitar manufactured in Hollywood in the 1920’s. I received the guitar from my Aunt Marge who lived on a golf course in Palm Desert. She was cleaning out a trailer to sell in which someone had abandoned the instrument. When i saw it in the corner of her living room I asked where she got that. She told me the story and that she just had it around for the grandkids to beat on, thinking it was useless because the action was so high no one could play it. I looked around and found a porcelain gold club nick-nack and using it as a slide I attempted to show her how it was supposed to be played. She said if you can use it in your music you can have it. I had always had secretly wanted one but I had actually been steering away from playing one because David Lindley and Ben Harper were both famous from playing one and I didn’t want to look like I was copying them. That would require too much splaynin’, to quote Ricky Ricardo. But since my Aunt gave it to me I thought I was aware a right to embrace it. I took it home, cleaned it up, attended to some repairs, and wrote an instrumental that night called Marge Wick. (The song can be heard on volume 35 The Longhorn Suite) https://patrickbrayer.bandcamp.com/track/marge-wicke

A woodcut from the novel The Edge of the Storm. You might recognize it from one of my Starvation Cafe posters as well as the cassette cover to my original Catholic and Western Fabuli (V9 1993) cassette (later reissued in 2001 by Ben Harper)

The Bells of San Bernardino 

A chimney coughs a Spanish blue ribbon / In the village of the gifted sky

At the end of a broken day in Thermolito / Black robed women begin to cry

The church sang like a brass bell angel / Everyone’s eyes began to ask

A man pulls the ropes that ignite you tear stained / As the moon rolls behind a mask

————–

The echoing bells ring like smoke / Above her house beneath the bridge

Cradled in her warm black shaw / She leans an ear to the window ledge

Who rings the bells in San Bernardino / Who pulls the ropes that can draw her in

He stares yellow faced from a stone bell tower / Dressed in rags, torn by the wind

The church stands haunted with things unwanted / Outside the door it’s deathly black

One soul chosen to sleep so frozen / Follows his song down the railroad track

The whole town was ashamed / By the passion of the bells

They grew jealous of that woman / They cursed her name beneath their veils

They made her unwelcome / Refused her a friend

Forced her to leave the town / They thought this to be the end

——————

They say that he turned crazy / As he peered through the bells

At his love in a blue cotton robe / Like a ship’s distant sail

Bells rang so franticly / Her horse it topped the hill

Turning her back on San Bernardino / Snapped the reins against her will

But the voice of the tower chased her / It painted love like a falling star

Watching through the bells in passion / He knelt to wonder in the dark

He prayed and he pulled the ropes / Finally felt blood on his hands

He knew he was a marionette / To the bells command

The wind teased the rage in his face / He hung his ghost in effigy

Left it to swing high in the tower / For the whole town to see

His footsteps clattered down the metal staircase / Saddled his horse and he was on her trail

His heart paced the hollow hammering / Of the tower bells ringing still

Written by Patrick Brayer and Roy Ruiz Clayton

Roy Ruiz Clayton, folk knuckleballer with my teardrop trailer apparently parked on second base.

The Brayers portrait by Roy Ruiz Clayton

Truce of Diamonds features a Del Vecchio Brazilian electric mandolin that I acquired at the Fontana Swap Meet in Fontana, which was held at the old defunct Bel Air Drive In theatre. It is signed on the peg-head by science fiction writer William Gibson (Neromancer) whom I met at the LA Festival of Books, then a UCLA.

This is yet another patchwork marriage song envisioning a possible blissful center to indifference. Life flies by, one day you look down to find a ring of gold (or a beer pull top) upon your finger. The songs philosophical lesson, if it must have one, is in that we don’t consciously decide to fall in love, we just give in to its trust and not our own. Reminding us that the only failure is in not trying, that even if you try and fail, that you have still succeeded in trying. I don’t know if it applies to horse shoes or hand-grenades, but that the preacher might still yet pick you up hitchhiking in his Cadillac of frozen grass.

A Truce of Diamonds

Old days on the burn pile / Gently lighting your face

That lump of vapor such as moon / Seems to make your case

We want to be together / But not give up a thing

In the burning of the ice / Finds your finger in a ring

———

As sure as they’re stars above / A pulp-colored ceiling

Is this really love we know? / Obliging us to feeling

What was once a truce of diamonds / Becomes a waving from the past

The preacher drives a Cadillac / The color of frozen grass

Trying not to make it look like the end / Not giving up just giving in

Something stronger than a chain on a battleship / As soft and rose red as a pouting lip

The caveman couldn’t imagine conceiving / Babies on the hood of a car /

But he could see it very clearly / Aptly written in the stars

You cannot survive this earth / With just one eye crying

Where even giving up / Is still a form of trying

Written by: Patrick Brayer / 09-10-20

Fontana Be Thy Name is yet another attempt by me to mythologize my hometown. I truly feel that I do paint the towns people in a flattering light, if only visible to my own self. I saw the salt of the earth characters in the vast Steinbeck catalog to be heroic in stature, and then when I opened my eyes after the last pages of say, Grapes of Wrath, I saw them all around me in the flesh. The Fontana I knew was no nonsense, and I always thought that that was a good place to start. I can’t help that the people of today seem to entertain the thought that they can hide in reality. Mythologizing and story telling is built to hide in, to regroup, learn, and unload the tensions of life. Then when we are refreshed we are welcomed back into reality. When we falsely think that our imagination is the reality, we stumble, and in response try to believe that our fantasies are real. And there you have a recipe for delusion. I think that my characters don’t always get to where they’re heading, but I allow them to come to terms with it, perhaps in the beauty of the imagery. When I was 19, in coming of age fashion, I packed my bags, filled my VW camper van with gas and headed out to find some place to live other than Fontana. The first place I headed was Big Sir up the Californian coast. It was like paradise. I was staring up at the forrests of redwoods like Alice in Wonderland, as far up as it was down to the turquoise sea. This was it I thought. While I was devouring Kerouac and Henry Miller, Alan Watts was busy just down the street, naked with some buxom followers at the natural crock pot hot springs of the Esalen Institute. With only a bag of blood oranges and football of sprouted wheat bread I was, or so I thought, set for my new life. Well, that lasted for about two weeks when it hit me. I had to be honest with myself, I looked all around me and I just couldn’t feel nor believe it. I couldn’t move my mind around to the point where I didn’t feel like I was in a postcard. So I headed back from whenst I came, and when I crossed the city limits to Fontana I felt a rush of relief. I looked north-south-east and west and I saw no sign of cuteness. Nothing here would fit nor find its way onto a Hallmark card. Just the hidden beauty of slag dust and a weed choked field. My nirvana right here waiting for my Volkswagen to breakdown conveniently right in front of the Mexico Lindo restaurant, to the blissful tortilla texture of a chicken and rice burrito, with a fist full of cilantro like a Spanish Popeye’s spinach. I never thought of it before but right here was a reality I could believe.

This recording includes the use of my 1931 National Resnophonic Hawaiian slide guitar, snaking its way, tobacco brown, through the fiddle strewn landscape. Our area of the Inland Empire has a reputation for slide greats. I was at one time working towards an article concerning such matter that I entitled Four Slidemen of the Apocalypse. It concerned the slide efforts of Chris Darrow, David Lindley, Ben Harper, and Glenn Ross Campbell. Once again, I just make a nod to them when I play. If I had the money I would just hire them to play the parts better. Since I don’t write musical notation, my demos (secret hits) are the closest I can come to jotting things down, hoping that someone can pick up the ball later and bring them to a higher realm, such as Alison Krauss did with So Long So Wrong, Robert Plant did with The Boy Who Wouldn’t Hoe Corn, or Alan Jackson did with Good Imitation of the Blues. I’m not putting myself down here, for they could have never reached the heights they did without my original rendering, but I stand humbled and eating toast regardless. It’s an old school approach, from back when people actually needed each other. You protected the writer from the road, allowing them the solace to create in a space devoid of the distraction of having to go from town to town endlessly singing the same songs over and over again night after night to strangers. I consider myself lucky I don’t have a good voice.

Fontana Be Thy Name

A man turned his chair from its side / And spotted his steelmill trophy bride

An earthquake made her hair slowly sway / Until every hour was Independence Day

Across any given space something may loom / Her words drew the air straight from the room

He talked to his tattoo as if what he read it said / A treadmill of blindman’s black and red

It read like old love letters that never came / Fontana be thy name

Every leaf of the calendar falls without pain

Until biker gangs and lemon groves smell the same

A phosphate with your sweetheart, gin rummy with a bum

Freight train meets the platform with a tauten hum

———– 

The snake like hiss of the sprinklers, sound both wet and dry

And the wax sky doesn’t either ever close its eye

Poppies have a color that now for now must wait

The teacher’s voice at children, like a broken plate

Grail-like we lose our fame / Fontana be thy name

————-

The night was as dark as a top hat on snow

Then the moon came up like a crooked mayor in tow

Man is made of dialogue, a passion that of theft 

Take that away and you a have nothing left 

What is it that you call it, that breaks free from the chain / Fontana be thy name

Some people say they’re tuff, real beyond the blame

But they’re just waltzing on cupcakes beside Fontana’s name

A jewelry store heist becomes a table full of food

So that the poorhouse wouldn’t reach us even if it could

Written by Patrick Brayer / 07-12-19

Strawberry Malt

I’ve got these beasts in the forest / And birds singing in the trees

And I’m taking a vacation from the gypsy who prays

Down at the roadhouse by the missile silo / Hey little other side, hello

————–

Sea spray in my face / and sand in my toes

And the book in my suitcase / and all of my clothes

From the Salvation Army had read it I know / Hey, night blooming flower, hello

————–

Wind of the islands / candle of the night

Feelings inside me that I’m not going to fight

They’re down in the garden so I’ll just let them grow / Hey sun raisin maid, hello

——————

Now I’m down in the hammock / and people I’m taking my time

Don’t ask me what’s shaking / I’ll just say never mind

Because all that I know is that I’ve opened a hole / Hey little other side, hello

Written by: Jack Tempchin

I built the song My Father Left Me a Honky Tonk out of a lyric I found filed away from probably thirty years ago. It had no date on it and it was hand written, pre-computer, signaling a time before I even had a typewriter. It seems to symbolize boldly to me my times grappling with my father’s docey-doe with alcoholism. Who knows what nightmares he saw in WWII, he never spoke of it, his bakery business went bankrupt, and then his wife and true love died at fifty-one years of age of breast cancer. I know all of that doesn’t give you permission to drink but just the same everyone has their own personal amount of tragic elasticity. I stayed with him at our Pinedale home throughout the mid-80’s to watch over him and make sure he was eating, while he made his daily trek down to Alder Liquor each day, like a glockenspiel, for his fifth of Kesslers. It was a traumatic thing for me to watch, dragging on for about eight years, so It would have been near impossible for it not to enter into my writing. On the other hand they were some wonderful quality years also, watching him tolerate my tofu cooking, playing ping pong, and endless Gin Rummy duels. I’ll always remember the image of him in the den, on his exercise bike pointed at the t.v. watching the live chase scene between the police and O.J. Simpson, my dad seemingly speeding up to apprehend “The Juice”.

Between running the Starvation Cafe, and recording my Secret Hits volumes, I performed in any number of bluegrass pickup bands for whatever money I could get, Knotts Berry Farm, Calico Ghost town, The Golden West Bluegrass Festival, The Grass Valley Bluegrass Festival, etc. In retrospect I’d have to dig a little deeper to find all the songs my father influenced. I Serve My Time and Then I Go (V9), and You Broke the Sky (V34) come to mind. The good news is that after two failings to cotton to two Alcoholics Anonymous treatment programs he awoke one day in 1997 and decided to quit on his own. He went out and immediately bought two matching red haired dachshunds and began attending the catholic church, which was located a block away for Alder Liquor. All this helped to remind me that the most important thing you can bestow upon your children and loved ones is the witnessing of your happiness. I cannot, nor do I want to imagine, where my mental state would be had my father passed away in the sad previous state. It’s hard to build a shelf to store all that. Blind luck? I’ll take it. My late brother and I performed the Ralph Stanley song, God Put a Rainbow in the Clouds at his graveside service in 1999, just after some Army guys shot off there guns and handed us a tri-folded flag.

On this track I am again featuring a 1931 National Triolian Resnophonic Hawaiian guitar.

My Father Left Me a Honky-Tonk

My father left me a honky-tonk / I didn’t know what to do

I drank all the booze and I slept on its floor / But I never did open its doors

I had to let the band go / It made me feel rather sad

When I saw them out singing for dimes on the street / In the San Bernardino heat

The barmaids came by and got their things / cocktail napkins wipe the tears so soft

I told them that every door I open closes behind me / and that they were better off

—————

I sold the mirror behind the bar / finally got some money in my hands

Went out and bought a statue for my father’s grave / Upon his six feet of land

The sun was going down over my heard / Like the sky was being welded shut

I cried I love you my father like the moon and stars / but not this honky-tonk

—————

A wino watched me tack a sign up on the bar / Rubbed his eyes with his sleave

It read “My heart is ripped open, but this bar is closed” 

He looked through the trash as he began to leave

I boarded up the windows and I hit the road / I ripped off my rear-view mirror

Sending everything behind me to the side of the road / As I breath in the warm night air

Written by: Patrick Brayer

Never Too Late

Never Too Late is a song I’ve always loved lyrically, which was written by one of my early bluegrass heroes, Carter Stanley of the Stanley Brothers. He was born in Big Spraddle Creek Virginia in 1925 and died died in 1966 at 42 years of age. I calculated out the exact amount of days that he had lived, and when I lived that exact amount I scheduled a party on Pinedale which included generic beers with Carter Stanley scrawled on their sides for us to imbibe while we played pingpong and listened to the entire catalog of the Stanley Brothers. Attendees that I can remember were, David Dickey, Rob Morrow, and Iggy Hederson. I ran a tape recorder throughout the whole party and the next week I played back two hours of it on my weekly radio program, The Starvation Cafe Radio Archives on KUCR out of the University of California Riverside. Needless to say it ended up being their very first two hour ping pong with banjos sonic symposium.

On this cut I’m flogging a Kentucky KM1500 F-style Mandolin. It is designed to the near specifications of the old 1923 Gibson Lloyd Loar that Bill Monroe made famous. It is made with a hand-carved and graduated Adirondack spruce top and a Solid, flat-sawn highly-flamed handcarved and graduated Northern Michigan maple back, it also includes a Hand-rubbed Cremona sunburst lacquer finish. In other words when you’re not playing it you are satisfied just to stare into it. On this cut I play it a little strategically out of tune on purpose, because if it was in tune people might want me to play it all the time.

Soundtrack to a Weed

Soundtrack to a Weed is an instrumental to honor the life of a weed, which I can’t help but feel is the purpose I fulfill amongst the tall timbers of my most cherished friends, like Michael Hedges, Alison Krauss, Ben Harper, Pat Cloud, and Stuart Duncan. I cannot help but then feel also that I have been luckier than most, even if i haven’t ever made any more of a livelihood than a mere janitor at a Radio Shack. “It’s not all about the money” said the man who had some. To be honest with you it never occurred to me to have a backup plan. I’ve always had this target in my mind and I shot towards it, not blood lust as much as twang-lust. I trusted it and I can’t say exactly why. I had no choice. I had no confidence in the reality world that was presented to me, so I searched for something divine, and that I found in the form and symmetry of music. I allowed it to draw people towards me and to drive unwanted elements away, and somehow I believed in it. Caught in this circumstance I grimace to say that religion starts to make a little sense, but I was not a joiner. I found that I just had a strong aversion to programing, that I’m not necessarily proud of, and which had left me near helpless at times. I fervently studied religious texts of the world but I wasn’t like most, looking for something to believe in. I merely wanted to learn how to philosophize, and I felt that to be their true instruction. And that would help my art, and my art was to become my divining rod. Well, that seems charming in your twenties and maybe even into your thirties, but drag it all the way into your fifties and sixties and it seems a little reckless, even after hours. But here I am, I stand before you, maybe not successful, but somewhat of a success story, my integrity coming by way of the blinders which I confiscated from a blind man, who didn’t need them. And it was these I wore to aid in my inferiorital plow through stone cold doubt. The main key to success for an artist is to naturally parlay every little success into a bigger success, the farmer always wants to harvest a better tomato, but in my case I was more interested, and once again I’m not speaking from pride, in protecting the personal integrity of the work, going to my own mind for advise, or listening back to the music itself to inform what to do next, for it’s all packed with further information, that and unspoken magical aspects. I know I can’t speak too confidently because I’m not done yet, but I can raise a proper glass of Bushmills Black to the very process, a process I thought I found but in truth actually found me. A door it opens and then it is your job to decide which side is ‘in’ and which side isn’t ‘out’. Answer: it’s all the same thing.

On this instrumental track I feature the Carter pedal steel guitar duking it out with the dustbowlian-Steinway in bookend fashion with the introductory 1913 Massacre. If it helps, try to imagine Thelonious Monk and Buddy Emmons practicing electro-shock therapy on each other on an island made of bees.

These recordings were produced by The Roil Academy of Dust 2021 located in the burbs of Ontario CA. Heartfelt thanks go out to Fatherly-Edd Ridderbusch and Uncley-Dave McGill for their spot on help in the recent reconstruction of The Brayer Archives. These works are dedicated to my hands-on heroes in song, Chris Darrow, Robb Strandlund, Roy Ruiz Clayton, Richard Stekol, Greg Copeland, Jack Tempchin, Eric Schiller, Jack Hardy, Ben Harper, and Hoagy Carmichael.