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Category Archives: Recording

New Music

For a little while I’ve focused on visual art and gallery exhibitions. However, I’ve also been kicking around some melodies and lyrics in my spare time. I was recently inspired to begin recording some quick demos of my ideas.  Before I knew it I had twenty three songs! I’ve decided to release these songs in four parts (E.P.’s, if you will). I am hoping to release the first set this summer.

I invite you to consider my work as a visual artist and as a recording artist as separate but related pursuits.

As for visual art, this summer I will have a piece in a museum in Korea and do a mini-mural art residency in Chattanooga, TN. In the fall I will exhibit two new works in two shows–one at the Pacific Northwest College of Art and one here in Pullman at Washington State University.

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lexington demos reconsidered, new July For Kings album update

So oddly enough, my experience with blogging over the last ten years has landed me a teaching assistantship for a “Professional Practices for Artists” class at the Department of Art Architecture and Planning at the University of Cincinnati, where I am currently enrolled in a graduate program working on an mfa (master of fine arts) I guess this means I should set a good example and blog more often!

I hope you are having a great new year. i am sitting here listening to music and eating a Reese’s cup.  My cat is with me, not coincidentally pictured here on the cover of this album:

I  listened to my sort-of-album “Lexington Demos” the other day for the first time in years. this was a limited release with an intentionally DIY aesthetic (100 signed CD-R’s) to suit the low-fi home recordings. i think there are still a few decent songs so i have made the album available as high quality (wav!) downloads on this website here. I also added a bonus track–a demo of a song i recorded about that time called “Fog”. if you bought the mp3’s before but want to upgrade to wavs, e-mail me and i’ll send you a coupon.

this was just one of those days where i go back and listen to my previous work, including songs that have not been completed or released, to determine what i might want to mine for ideas.  it seems that i always have more ideas and more songs than i have time to actually record.  this is a shame.  perhaps i can catch up at some point.

speaking of time and catching up, i have been in the studio with July For Kings as much as i can, working a the guitar-oriented rock album that will melt your face off.  but my time has been split between art-making, grad school, website-making, and writing/brain storming for solo material as well.  when i think abstractly about all the things that i do (and enjoy doing) it seems like i am reaching too far and trying to do too much.  but on a daily basis, believe it or not, i find plenty of time to relax, read books, watch movies, hang out with friends, et cetera. my girlfriend and i are watching the television series Lost and we are on the fifth season.  do not tell me how it ends or i’ll kill you.

things are going pretty well with the as of yet untitled July For Kings record.  we have ten songs in various stages of completion, all without final lead vocals.  i have some other songs i am kicking around but we have decided to do things in two phases.  first we will finish up (or mostly finish up) the ten songs we are doing now.  then we will go into another studio and do three more or so and possibly cut one or two.  this way we will all be fresh and excited for the other tracks.  nearly every album i have created, there are always a few good songs that come out toward the end of the process.

in the studio while getting guitar tones and thinking about production we have talked a lot about July For Kings’ debut, the SWIM album.  while the SWIM album was not much of a commercial success, it had a dramatic impact on my life and on the lives of a lot of other people as well.  it put me in touch with friends and fans all over the world.  after losing the record deal, in a lot of ways i just did not have the strength to carry forward the kind of bold aesthetic that we had crafted on that record.  i did not feel that way anymore, that sure about anything.  plus, i was stubborn and took pains to avoid being pigeonholed creatively by doing the opposite of what i knew people expected me to do.  since then, i am far less uptight about trying win over every single person with every single creative effort.  i am confident about my abilities to the point that i no longer feel like i have to prove anything to anyone.  i can just make stuff.

i don’t really regret any of this.  diversifying my identity has allowed me to approach albums and individual projects in a more relaxed manner, allowing more consideration for specific audience.  writing for this record, i was finally ready to re-approach July For Kings for what it was and what it should always be–a band unabashedly making powerful, emotional heavy guitar rock music.  i realize that is a big set up for those of you who loved that album so much.  whether or not it falls short of this goal, we are up for the challenge, and we are having a good time making it.

some tracks include:

  1. Orchid
  2. Kite
  3. Song 3
  4. Feather of Maat
  5. Haunted
  6. Hole in the Universe
  7. Island
  8. Climb
  9. Middletown
  10. Tarantula

i have some other things we are kicking around, but looking over this list, it’s pretty solid collection of songs.  almost all of them i wrote in the last year or so, so i think it’s going to have a cohesiveness that will be really nice.    it’s just going to be a lot of pressure in me in the studio to get the vocals right!   i am just starting to feel that now.

completing this album and doing it right is one of my new year’s resolutions.  or maybe it only counts as a goal?  can a resolution be a goal?  i hope your year is a fantastic one.

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college degrees, brand-building, justifications, cereals

Holy crap I have a new website! And a place to blog again. I hope you are well. It has been a long while since I have written. Let’s catch up!

I have graduated from Northern Kentucky University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Studio Arts with an Emphasis in Painting. I have been accepted into the graduate program at the University of Cincinnati to pursue a Masters of Fine Art. That begins in the fall.

With some extra time on my hands the last few months I created this website for my solo music, and a website for my visual art. I am working on a new jfk site as well.  My old website became outdated both in terms of content and web accessibility. In the process of creating the new site I went back and dug out some extremely old blogs (from before the word blog existed, as i like to say) from the early July For Kings days.  Unfortunately I lost some photos for some posts in 2005 and 2006. But all the text is intact. If you are long-time fan (or former band member, for that matter) it is entertaining reading. Some of the writing is rather bland but it does at the very least, say what happened. Which at the time was all an “online journal” was supposed to do. I guess now a blog is supposed to be interesting. Ha!  i have created a category called Favorites for entries that were intentionally or accidentally interesting to read.

We played a July For Kings show in Dayton, OH at McGuffy’s last week with Smalltown Sleeper that confirmed our deepest suspicions–we still have fans!  and lots of them!  we were overjoyed by the turnout and really encouraged.  it had been a while since we had played with JFK (and longer since we had promoted much).  the timing is perfect as well, since I have written a more guitar-oriented, driving July for Kings album. I have demos that I am really excited about and continue to record but no, sorry, you cannot hear them as i am singing in a half-assed falsetto so as not to disturb my neighbors.  We will begin recording the masters in the next few weeks, and i will do some real singing and possibly even some throat-ripping screaming, which i have not done on an album in a very long while. I will write more about that as it unfolds. It is still early–we are expecting at least four or five months until you can hear anything–but I am excited about doing something more rocking, coming off my solo album Alchemy.  Alchemy was well-received but probably would not be described as hard rocking.  increasingly, jfk and my solo adventures are different entities, and that is very fun for me since i must constantly create, and i can’t make the same kind of pie every day because i may have adhd or add or aaaaaahhhh i want a gourmet ice cream sandwich!  wowow okay.

also, i have found that there is little tolerance for variety when it comes to artists.  we have come to see creators like companies.  artists build brands the same way corporations do, and don’t stray from their brand much (see shepherd fairey).  if you are a rock band, you have a stylistic thing and do it over and over.  if you are a visual artist, you make the same kind of painting over and over.  there are some exceptions to the rule (Picasso, Radiohead), but many times the people who have gotten away with this have done so because their entire schtick has been eclecticism.  since i am no radiohead or picasso, it is easiest to divide my life into different categories or brands, which has been a good way to direct my energy.  right now it is Alt-Rock Frontman, Prog-Electro-Folk Singer-Songwriter, and painter.  any pursuit i get into is going to have its own set of rules, so it is easiest to kind of keep those lines drawn.  i am not sure why i started writing this.  i guess i spend a lot of time justifying myself, which is what happens when you go to art school.  see how i just justified the reason i was justifying myself?!  after i get my masters degree, i probably won’t be able to think or create at all!  i will be in a paralyzing coma that alternates between self-doubt, self-justification, and fear.  i hope though, that i will have Mom’s Best Naturals Mallow-Oats cereal, my favorite new cereal.

Speaking of cereal, I only have one really great story since the last time I wrote a blog, and it has nothing to do with cereal.  the story takes place at the Alchemy full-band show in the historic ballroom at the Southgate House.  I will post it after this.  it seems that life is just not as interesting as it was when i was trekking all over europe during the summer.  but it would be a shame to exclude this one story, even if the telling is belated, as it contains suspense, American history, deception, philosophy and more.  all of that wrapped up in less than sixty seconds of my life.  yes, really!  the sixty seconds i was a magician.

That is the update for now.  xoxox

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evaporating until i'm a cloud

i have basically locked myself in my apartment for the last three weeks working on this album. so far i have played all sorts of things on it including but not limited to five different acoustic guitars, a ukelele, a dulcimer, accordian, keyboards and more keyboards, shakers, tamborines, bells, maracas, my newly tuned piano, a wooden box, an antique toy cash register, my lap, a glass of water, et cetera.

the concept for the record is to combine electronic sounds with organic acoustic sounds. i believe that is the frontier of progressive music. the album has a lot of echoes of artists like sigur ros, four tet, radiohead, bjork, early nine inch nails and peter gabriel; all artists that combine futuristic and organic sounds with great success. sometimes i can’t tell if i am sounding like radiohead because i like radiohead, or because that is just what you end up with when you let loose and sonically pillage in an unrestrained postmodern way. it must be some of both although i have been thinking about this tonight and i think most of it is the latter. i honestly do not think many rock artists allow themselves the kind of creative freedom that radiohead has. i think if they did, a lot more artists would sound a lot like radiohead, whether they had heard of them or not. what you have instead, are thousands of artists citing radiohead as a major influence, but not aking many sonic risks in the studio.

i love being in the studio. it is among my favoritest things. it is an endless sea of sonic adventure.

despite being a self-proclaimed risk taker, my new album is still so POP i can hardly believe it. i have always felt myself being pulled between those two worlds aesthetically. so i guess when i do what i truly want to do on an album it should not be surprising that it is at once incredibly weird but still accessible. or at least, that is how it sounds to me. i hope it is received that way. if you like radiohead and phil collins, you will like this album. i suspect that if you count yourself among the minority of people who love both radiohead and phil collins, you will absolutely love this album as much as i have loved making it.

today we are at john’s studio finishing up the drums with dan. he has come with a lot of creative ideas of his own, as well as delivered on the very challenging songs and drum parts i have written. i cannot imagine doing these drums with another drummer. we have two songs in 5/4, a song with verses in 7/4, a lot of signature changes within songs. and for the most part, he just learned everything in the studio yesterday and knocked it out. this is quite the triforce of professionalism.

we were talking yesterday about how easy these sessions have been. definitely the lowest stress sessions i have ever had, and that is saying something. i think has a lot to do with the amount of mutual respect we have for each other, and being open minded about each others ideas. it helps when everyone gets along as friends.

i am hoping to post a song on myspace soon.

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incubating an album, photographs, paintings, and scientists

hello!

it’s a blog!

first things first–we have july for kings shows this friday and saturday in cleveland and cincinnati. please consider coming out if you are in the area. with any luck, they will not suck. that is the endorsement. go ahead and tell your friends you heard from the singer the show will “probably not suck”. it’s good to start with low expectations. if your friends need more convincing just keep upping the bar. best to stop just short of “amazing” though. we haven’t played a show in months. but we are looking forward to it! keep the facebook “attending”s comin’.

i have been working hard on solo album. okay that’s not true. i have been wishing i could work hard on a solo album when in actuality i’ve been carving out a couple days a week if i’m lucky. although i did have a short period of mania a couple weeks ago where i worked on it a lot but only slept about an hour a night. until school is out that is kind of the only way to do it. it is going to be great though and i think about it everyday. i began with 15 to 20 songs; the best 11 or so are sounding pretty good although some are still without vocals and some are lacking bridges. i think i just need ONE more song to round out the album. i need a really upbeat song. i need something great to happen to me. or maybe just a sunny day with nothing else to do but record. i have a mood in my head. i have so many moods in my head.

in some ways the album is more adventurous than curvature. the tempos are more varied (or at least i am trying…). there are two songs in 5/4. the instrumentation is more varied. the concept has been to use earthy, acoustic and wooden sounds against modern sounding electronic and ambient elements. i think it may be slightly more accessible though in that it won’t mope or brood quite as hard as curvature. it is a little bit sappier…maybe more melancholy than dark. i know all this basically means nothing until you hear it. i guess this is just a reminder to you (and myself) that it exists. i am hoping to block out most of may 8th-27th to finish it up. last summer we did july for kings monochrome. it is a little crazy but i actually think i could do an album every year, now that i have enough resources and know-how to arrange and record most of it on my own. writing songs has never been a problem for me. it’s just capturing them in the right way.

lately the lines between songwriting and production have kind of started to blur. doing curvature with blumpy really opened me up to a larger world of sonic possibilities, and to the idea that a song is more than lyrics and melody. on the album i am working on, there are a few passages of just music without vocals. maybe it is partially that i have been listening to my own voice for so long… it is a bit of relief to have some space that is more about the instruments and chords and textures. texture and layering has become more and more important to me in music in the last few years. i think there are a lot of parallels with my visual art.

and speaking of visual art, i had a gallery show of photographs recently at the covington artisan’s enterprise center in covington, ky. you might recognize this image:

july for kings monochrome album cover photo framed print

this was the most involved exhibition i have ever participated in. Karen S. Chambers wrote a really nice review of it here at http://aeqai.com/, possibly the artsy-est publication in Cincinnati. the review is a good overview of the aesthetic.

it was almost like a solo show, in that i had twenty photographs in one area. the other artists was holland davidson, a talented abstract painter from florida. it takes quite a lot of time to print, cut, cut mat board, tape, matte, take apart frame, reassemble frame, cut wire, and hang x 20 pictures. so the whole experience of the show devoured a lot of energy for a month or so. i have been working on this series off and on for a year or two, but of course the process of trying to sell art is much more involved than actually making art, which i have always found to be somewhat easy. we finally took down the show the other day, so i have made the photos available at joehedges.com, at least for limited time. these pictures may be too abstract for a lot of people. but we did not sell all the photos and i don’t really have any use for ten + frames at the moment, so i may also try and sell some prints of some of the monochrome alternate covers, or some more straightforward black and white things i was working on in 2007-08.

i am also working on a series of expressive portrait paintings of friends and family. i am just rounding out the series now at 10 or so. after a lifetime of intermittent drawing and painting i think i have finally arrived at a personal style that is unique and cohesive and mature. this is saying something. i will put up these paintings in the next few weeks. i am going to start looking for another local gallery who may want to show them.

if you need art, buy it from an artist! not from wal-mart. it is dumb the amount of money people spend on silly wal-mart artworks when there are so many artists out there who are sacrificing a normal life to make art. the people who make art are crazy about making art. you have to be crazy, i guess, since nobody wants to pay for it. and if you don’t like my art i will put you in touch with other artists. and if you like my art but i’m the only working artist you know, even better! i would be so happy to be the one artist you know. it is good to have an artist in your life. or at least, four out of five people in my life are happy about it last time i counted and that seems high.

you know what i need? is more scientists. also magicians. i tried making friends with a magician i found online recently but it didn’t go so well. so if you are doing science or actual magic, hit me up. those are two of my favorite things.

joe

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glass skulls and copyright law

happy new year! just thought i would check in. i had a wonderful holiday and i hope you did too.
i even got a few christmas gifts, including vodka in a glass skull, a sweater, some photography books, a basquiat puzzle, a book about how to cope with life as a werewolf, and a book about dust. i would recommend dan aykroyd’s crystal head vodka to anyone, mostly for the container. i’m not really much of a vodka drinker but i like almost anything shaped like a skull, except crackers, which should always be shaped like circus animals. unless you have a high tolerance for science like me, you may find a book about the journeys of dust particles slightly dull. and i maybe the werewolf book wouldn’t be as relevant to your life. but go for the skull shaped vodka. your house-guests will love it.

my resolutions for the new year include finishing another solo album, learning to draw and doing solo acoustic shows in europe, eating more mike sells chips, cooking more, and at least one other thing that i’ve completely forgotten already. so far, i am kicking 2010’s ass. but i really am going to finish this album, and maybe with some help i will go to europe.

recently a couple people asked if i could blog about how copyright law works for music, and my affiliation with performance rights organizations. so this blog is about my personal experience as a songwriter and my recent goal to more actively seek out licensing opportunities. i almost never talk candidly about music or “the music industry” anymore, as i’ve been kind of wrapped up in academia and visual arts. but you could indulge me right here and now–and what could be more exciting than reading about performance rights organizations? i know, you’re salivating.

my music has never been properly exploited. that probably seems obvious, especially to friends who have asserted for years that “you guys should be huge!”. but setting aside the prospect of super-stardom, the music i have created solo or with July For Kings has not been heard outside a relatively small, albeit international, network of extremely supportive fans. one way to solve this problem would be to tour endlessly, which is what a lot of people do, and sometimes it works. but a more practical way of getting music out there for me at the moment while i’m in school is through licensing opportunities on the internet, TV, and film. so in the last week i’ve been looking at several different licensing agreements with companies who could potentially help me do this. oddly, everything happens at once.

there are two types of copyrights for a song. there is a copyright for a recording of a song, and a copyright for the song itself. a copyright for a recording is easy enough to understand. MCA owns the copyrights for the sound recordings of my swim album. they paid for the recordings to be made and contractually, they own the masters. but a song is a curious thing. it is not like a painting. it exists in the air, between the air even, in the mind and blood of the songwriter and can be transferred to others through their ears. it cannot be caged up or destroyed, only forgotten. even a song that has been recorded has not been imprisoned on the tape. someone else can record it or reinterpret it as their own. a song is magic. and to protect the rights of magicians and collect money on their behalf, two groups of performance rights organizations exist: ascap and bmi. i am currently with bmi. i was originally with ascap as it is the larger group, but i switched to BMI for two reasons. first, they have a more interesting history (they originally collected performance royalties for the black artists that ascap refused to collect for), and secondly samantha cox talked us into it by being incredibly sweet and frequently buying me lunch in new york city. she still works there and has worked her way up the ladder since those days. and maybe i just have a thing for three letter acronyms.

it is very difficult legally to take the songwriting performance royalties from a songwriter. you have to be rather conniving, or, have a very unusual situation where a party feels that they are entitled to it because they were screwed over in some other way. but ideally, a songwriter writes a song and retains the songwriting share of the publishing no matter what. the publishers share, on the other hand, generally goes to a publisher or licensor.

since being dropped from MCA, i have made more as a songwriter through BMI than i did as a major label artist. in any one period. it’s never enough to sustain me but it helps. the weird irony about this is that while we were signed to MCA records (who owns the recordings of the songs on one album), we were also signed to Time Warner Chappell music publishing (who owns a portion of the songs themselves). Warner Chappell is (or was) one of the largest music publishing companies in the world. for the rights to exploit my songs by shopping them to TV shows and movies (and the right to collect and keep half of the publishing royalties), warner chappell coughed up a large advance, which was promptly disbursed among a group of handlers including two managers, a business manager, and a producer, before it was finally filtered down to me and the band guys. despite being the primary songwriter, in the end i received a modest fraction of the total sum, and the lions share went to the producer. that kind of thing i guess makes sense when i look back on it. so many interests to balance, and it’s basically all about money for everyone except the artist. but what is really odd, is that warner chappell never did anything, as far as i know, to exploit this catalog of material, which most likely will never be as valuable as it was at that brief period of time in 2002 when we had some songs on the radio (and when people under 30 still listened to the radio).

maybe it was my job to call warner chappell all the time and say “hey i’m that guy with the songs that they’re playing in las vegas, memphis, cleveland, et cetera. do you know of any movies these songs would be good for? one of them is called normal life. do you know of any movies where, maybe things are dramatic and suspenseful and crazy but all the characters want is to live a normal life? man, if only someone in hollywood would make a movie like that.” but then again, warner chappell had already paid us the advance, so it should have become their job to work toward seeing a return on their investment. it would be as if you purchased a really nice car even though you knew its value would depreciate incredibly quickly. and you didn’t drive it at all. really, we (or rather, my managers and producer) were the big winners financially here, but the songs were never properly exploited. and that is more important than money.

that is what happened to the music industry all over the place. there was so much money that it was treated like monopoly money for such a long time. then we were signed at a time when the money wasn’t really there but the advances were going out and no one was working to make them valuable…well that’s a problem. so we were dropped from MCA when MCA folded and merged with Geffen, and eventually i got Warner Chappell to let me out of my contract when i realized it would be better to have all the rights to my songs than have a big company who owned them but didn’t do anything.

and as a songwriter it’s about the same or better now than it was with a major label. in a sense i always have 100 nice cars in the garage. i don’t really need anyone to craft a song. okay, maybe i need a kick ass band to make them sound good, but i don’t need two multinational corporations. and songs are valuable! i know they are. not just in a magical way but in a financial way as well. and only now am i really realizing the truth of that. this is a good time to come to that realization, since as an independent artist and a songwriter, i stand to make more and i have much greater freedom to make choices about what to do with an ever growing catalog.

so on the off chance that you know of any placement opportunities, i’m your man. as long as it’s not a viagra ad, i’m probably gonna be cool with it.

tonight we have a show in cincinnati at a place called play by play. i love the snow but not when we have a show. really kills the turnout. please come out! i hope you are well and warm

lovingly
joe

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the banality of blogging, art making and music, the interconnectedness of all things

i have not been blogging so much. if i blog less i should make them beefier i think. there was a time that i blogged almost every day, in the days before the word “blog” existed, the “online journal” as we called it was terribly exciting. there were only a handful of bands doing it, a very small number of people of any sort doing it. my original drummer sam dobrozsi and i were computer geeks from a young age, and i attribute a great deal of our early success as a band to our savviness (nerdiness). Before the internet, there were local bulletin board systems or “BBS’s”. you could dial-up a BBS with your computer, and leave messages for other people who had dialed-up to read. our friend mariano (now a graduate of MIT who makes robots) ran one of these BBS’s from his amiga computer at his parents’ house. It was exclusively for our group of friends, half of whom would later join July For Kings, the other half would go on to become psychologists, writers, robotics engineers. The BBS was called “Nexus Flux”, literally interconnected change. It was 1994; we were fourteen years old. I like telling this story.

A short time later the internet started and we had a band called SWIM. We were one of the first local bands, if not THE first local band in Middletown Ohio to have an internet website. At the time, if you wanted to go online and see websites, your choices were very limited. For the few people in our community who began getting interested in this, our website, then swimband.com became a popular and dynamic place to hang out. There was no social networking–only message boards, which were an extension of the BBS’s so popular before the rise of the internet. At the time, if you wanted to meet people and socialize, you did it through sites that related to something you were interested in. swimband.com, and later julyforkings.com saw a lot of users, many of whom formed lifelong friendships and even marriages. this is still a source of great pride for me, that our music bought people together in such a direct way.

Now I have new friends and new band members but I also have all the same friends that I did when I was twelve. This is highly unusual and we remind each other frequently. Our group friendship has taken on a kind of mythic, Steven King’s Stand By Me quality in our minds. In a way it is as if we shared all the core values there were to share, even at that age, although we couldn’t have expressed it in words or imagined where our lives would take us.

for some reason all my post-utopian ideas about the internet are tied in my mind to that period of adolescent geekiness i shared with my close friends.

now i kind of feel like blogging is pointless. there is such a cacophony of ideas and slander and advertisements that the internet has turned into something of a great bathroom wall–nonsense, meaningless rabble with the occasional good joke or insight. although i am just as addicted to googling things and facebook as anyone, i just feel overwhelmed about trying to make a noise. i am a fruit fly rooting for myself in a football stadium the size of mars. this is the plight of the singer/songwriter right now, or any mostly unknown artist in any field. so instead of buzzing aimlessly, i am content to retreat to my corner of earth to focus on my crafts.

i spent a good deal of the summer working on music, first the release of July For Kings’s monochrome and then the basic recording for an upcoming solo album. now i am back in school at NKU still working on a bachelor of fine arts in painting. i am really going to focus on my painting for the next few months, and then return to the solo album during winter break. some of the paintings will tie into the album. hopefully i can complete everything in the winter. if there is one thing i am good at, it’s being alone for many hours and focusing on a creative task. unfortunately i feel less and less good at being able to properly exploit my talents and sell myself to the world. with that said, it is the work i truly love; the recognition has to come second. i think everything happens in phases though, and this is a good time to just do what i do best and really refine my crafts. despite this i am continually amazed at the amount of people who continue to be interested in my music despite any strong effort or budget to promote it! i feel very fortunate, and i always have.

in other news, i’m in Indianapolis right now sitting in a grassy vacant lot. I just watched a mosquito bite me twice without killing it, just to see if i could do it. It was uncomfortable to watch, seeing her hind legs raise as she drove her spike into my skin. If i was a centimeter tall and had an exoskeleton maybe it would have been sexy. But as it is, my hand itches in two places constantly and I am slightly regretting the decision.

i am waiting for david mead to play. i also want to ask him about what his life is like. i could easily have gone that route instead of going back to school. he puts out solo albums which are frequently sparse and piano/acoustic based (and quite beautiful lyrically and melodically), and travels the country almost constantly, either by himself or with one other guy. i think it is smart for me to get a degree and possibly grad school now, so that i have more options. although i feel the pull of music and the road constantly. i think as long as i am expressing myself i am generally happy. summers and winter breaks will have to suffice for recording for now. although you would be surprised how much music i can record in that time! i write a few things a week even when i must paint most of the time. i have my own painting studio now. it’s cozy.

i am reading a book called the Tao of Physics. it is about the links between eastern mysticism and modern physics. nexus flux? as it turns out, according to the most modern science and centuries of sages, everything is just energy and we are all interconnected- unconscious participants in a great, beautiful, cosmic dance. neat.

that’s the update for now. please keep in touch. thank you for your support and friendship
i look forward to making more stuff for you
joe

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new solo album

i am working on a new solo album. it includes new and old songs. i have nine or ten songs started
i have a bunch of ideas including the possibility of making a series of paintings to accompany the songs. i want the packaging to be really special and unique, coming off the 100 covers thing for JFK. i figure these days, either people want to own physical CD’s or they don’t. the people that no longer buy physical CD’s, they will probably not buy my CD’s no matter what. but for the people who still find album art valuable, i feel an obligation to make the art really interesting and heartfelt. and perhaps the people who download or burn the CD will STILL want to buy artwork. i don’t know. just trying to think of ways to keep afloat and keep making music. i think the curvature stuff was pretty successful, tying my art to my music. this will just be the next step.

like curvature, the album is quite dark and quite weird, especially compared to the pop extravaganza of july for kings monochrome. honestly i really could USE another upbeat song or two for this solo record since all my pop songs went for JFK, but nothing has come out yet. i’ve been playing with this thing in 5/4 and 7/4

i am hoping to be able to finish at least 12 songs while working on accompanying paintings

anyway, here is what i am looking at:

recorded:

1 half right
2 monkey
3 i can try
4 as soon i can (come home)
5 street light
6 magic
7 flute weirdness / cicadas
8 ultra cinamatic
9 epinephrine
10 four leaf clover

need to start:

11 wait for you
12 throat

need to prioritize:

13 what is real
14 nothing
15 highway
16 sleeping through
17 cemetary sun ?
18 wrong day ?
19 christmas day
20 walk carefully
21 the fog
22 tarantula

need to finish/re-write

23 i don’t get lonely (desert song) ?
24 sea fishing
25 i won’t
26 we are music
27 the corners of our eyes

i hope you are well

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exotic fruit, album names, squirrel stereotypes

you may be reading this blog through facebook notes, myspace.com/joehedges, myspace.com/julyforkings, or at it’s official home, www.joehedges.com. this self-syndication is getting pretty hardcore. it is nice of facebook to allow rss feeds. thanks for reading.

as i said in my last entry, with the new jfk album coming out i am going to attempt to blog more this year and generally keep better contact with you guys. that is going to include some pointless anecdotal stuff from my daily experiences. here goes.

i am currently in chicago. i came up here just for a day staying with my friend Thom thanks to megabus.com, where i got a $10 ticket. i will go almost anywhere if i can do it and only spend $10. yesterdayi ate chicago style pizza and visited the museum of contemporary art. today i am hoping to take lots of pictures.

january was exotic fruit month for me. i have begun creating themes for my months. i would encourage you to do this. it has added a great deal of focus and purpose to my life. as exotic fruit month draws to an end, i would like to reflect briefly on my discoveries. first, the good ones:

the kumquat
(not my photo)

the kumquat. the humble kumquat is by far the greatest of my exotic fruit discoveries. kumquats (or cumquats) look like miniature oranges and taste like “nature’s sweet tarts”. they’re about the size of large grapes and are a delicious bite sized snack. unlike the orange, the skins of kumquats are sweet and the centers are sour. that means, when you first bite into it it is sour, but then changes to sweet as you chew. this is a taste sensation not to be missed. go out and buy some right now and let me know how it goes.

another great fruit to try is the feijoa.

the feijoa
(not my photo)

feijoas are about the size of a kiwi and taste somewhat like kiwis, only with a tangy minty overtone. delicious. you just cut them in half and spoon out the insides. you can eat the skin too althogh the taste is too intense for me.

mini bananas. taste pretty much like big ones, only smaller. good if you have small friends, pet monkeys, or are in a mario kart race.

some fruits i do not reccomend:

prickly pears. wtf. these things are impossible to eat as they are filled with little unchewey seeds.

kiwanos (horned melons): again, seeds are a huge problem and a big inconvenience. but the upside is that they look like aliens when you cut into them. and i am pretty into anything that resembles an alien or a dead alien.

that wraps up exotic fruit month. thank you for your pretend interest.

hey, do you know any squirrels? they are awfully nice in the cleveland area. i hate to stereotype but i think the squirrels are nicer in cleveland than cincinnati and many other areas. i took this at a park

squirrel is fat

we exchanged contact info and he is coming down to cincy this weekend. we are going to catch up on american idol on the dvr.

last weekend we played in cleveland at the HiFi. unfortunately this show was full of technical issues, even worse than the mad frog. hopefully we are finished with equipment issues for a while as this was two shows in a row. i think john is beginning to think this band is cursed. i promise you john, this is atypical. but we have generally been playing well, and starting to really gel. the other night at practice we worked out a new show intro, and are going to begin introducing more songs from the new album into the live show.

speaking of the new album, we really need a name for it.
we have a few working titles:

revival
pieces of paper
narrative
no silence between these walls

hmmmm

i like three syllable words. coming off “nostalgia” and “curvature” we need a new word. narrative is our current favorite.
some concept for this album that may help:
it is new and old songs
looking forward while celebrating the band’s history
i think all the songs are story-songs.

that’s all i’ve got for now. my side is sore from shoveling snow. that says something about the amoutn of snow and the amount of a wimp i am.

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July For Kings in 2009

okay i am back. every day i am getting more and more into JFK mode. i am taking a slightly lighter load this semester in school to make more time for music. we are going to be playing regional shows nearly every weekend. check out the tour schedule for Cleveland, Columbus, Kent, Lexington, and Cinci. if saturday’s mad frog show turnout is any indication, the jfk fanbase is alive and well despite us not having released new material (under the July For Kings name) in four years. that is the really amazing thing to me lately. thanks for hanging in there with us through member changes and lulls etc.

the show went pretty well for us having taken the holidays off completely. there were some technical problems, including me breaking a string within the first 20 seconds of the show, a really drunk woman in the front row kept knocking my monitor off the stage… i finally said something “we’re going to have to get her out of here” and i didn’t see her again so i guess it worked. i am totally fine with drunkeness and strange drunken dancing (and was rather amused by it) but knocking stuff over just is not going to fly. it was rather amusing though. and all in all it was a great time and it was great to see everybody. our next mad frog show is March 27th; we are hoping it is even better.

i think we are going to have some good momentum going into 2009, and when the album drops it should be a lot of fun.
i have been working with John and Dan finishing it up. this is the most self-reliant the band has ever been. our guitarist John McGuire graduated from CCM with a degree in music recording/engineering, and myself and Dan have been picking things up from other people in studios over the years. most notably people like Ken Lewis, Eric Stewart, Andy Ellis, and of course Blumpy, who is kind of like my recording Obi Wan, an intermittent holograph in the back of mind. we are finished recording all the drums, guitars, keys, vocals, etc for the album. Dan and John are sorting through the tracks and piecing everything together, and John is going to mix. i think i am going to be mixing a couple tracks myself as well, for this first time ever. or at least try. of course, if it doesn’t go well between john and myself i will have to find outside mixers. as always, i am quite a perfectionist and i will not release something if i’m not really really happy with it. which may explain why we only release an album every few years. but it really is coming out this year, i assure you.

it is by far the most eclectic thing we have ever done. the songs range from acoustic ballads to piano based pop to country folk to hard rock but somehow retain a JFKesque quality throughout. i think it is a very interesting, mature pop record and i hope you will enjoy it. if Curvature was the most challenging thing i’ve done, this is by far the most accessible. i am hoping we can have a couple tracks mixed in the next few weeks and get them up on myspace. i’ll let you know

i hope you’re having a great year. keep in touch via myspace, facebook, email joe hedges (at joe hedges dot com) or however else you see fit. peace and exotic fruits.

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