Category Archives: Newsletter

Looking West

New Single, Looking West

I wrote Looking West during a recent drought up this way in CT.  Despite Hartford’s status as a thriving metropolis (ha!), there’s a surprising amount of agriculture around here. The main crop is shade tobacco, used mainly for cigar wrappers, which is grown using a process that hasn’t changed much in the past hundred or so years. Because I’m a sour puss, the sight of the old farm equipment and young men toiling in the sun – mostly hispanic and Jamaican hired hands now – always reminds me of the dust bowl, that uniquely American calamity born off hubris and our only-recent familiarity with the continent’s vast, unpredictable, open spaces.

Whiskey Grove

This is a Corey Brannon tune I heard him play when I was living in Oxford, MS.  The part of the song that was most touching to me as a young man recently came to pass in my own life, which I hardly could have credited as possible at the time. I don’t know if Brannon has any personal experience with the subject, but the sense of grief indelibly changing a person is about as true a sentiment as I’ve ever heard in a song, and the last stanza is exactly how I felt.

A Friendly Reminder

This project is fueled by whiskey. You know how you get whiskey? Money, that’s how!

There are exactly two ways you can help us procure the whiskey we need to keep this thing going: a) tell someone you know about us and b) find a tune you like on our band camp page and support us with some bucks.

So please, help us spread the word, and thank you in advance for your support.

Thank you,

Gilded Lilies b-w Young, Wild & Free

New Single

We’re back, and you can’t stop us! We released a new single yesterday, and Slitzky has once again emblazoned the work with the “doesn’t suck” stamp he keeps right next to the Neve master bus. Bastard.

Sidle over to or to our bandcamp page to take a listen and, y’know, support the cause. Niles is looking mighty thin these days.

Gilded Lilies

This outing’s eponymous effort is a slow burner called “Gilded Lilies.”

OK, so what’s it about?

I think often these days about Samuel Clemens, the man who coined the term “Gilded Age” and who described it with unparalleled mirth. But it is his very early career that fascinates me the most, his time on the river, and those first steps away from that river and towards the sunset, a literate man traveling westward amid the spectacular vistas of the Great American Desert.

I wonder what Sam would have thought of our own times, and I wonder at savagery with which he would have tormented the politicians of our age. It also saddens me to reflect on how familiar our current politics would be to him; fear of foreigners who don’t share our religion or way of life; the complicated and sometimes volatile relationship between white and black citizens; the ever-changing role of women in our society; oligarchs and their seeming lock on political power; debate about the role of America’s military might in the world; the sense that there is decay at the core of the great American experiment, but little agreement about where it lies or what its remedy might be.

But it’s nice also to think of him before all of that, after he’d left his riverboat career and was beginning to make his way across the short grass prairies, carrying with him the stories of his time on the river which would soon launch his career and provide him his new name. I imagine him as a young man with dark hair and a shaggy mustache, sitting on a wagon, enjoying a “rank old pipe” beneath a sunset that he must have thought was as iridescent and impossibly huge as the American experience itself.

“Gilded Lilies” is kind of about that… I guess.

This tune was tricky to record. Unlike a lot of the electric material we’ve recorded recently, this song required tracking multiple acoustic instruments in the same room. Also unlike most of our material, this song required overdubs of instruments that we had already recorded in our annual winter recording session.

The final iteration features Dan Sauve-Rogan, Niles Krieger, and David Slitzky playing live together, with my parts layered in later. I tracked the guitar in my home library late at night, as my wife slept upstairs and my dogs napped in the adjacent room, occasionally lifting their heads to peer through the glass French doors as I labored into a microphone, a glass of bourbon bearing witness on the desk.

We take these things for granted now, but I still marvel that we can play at different times and produce a piece of music that occurs in a single time and space. It’s black magic. And, to the extent that it works artistically, it is due to the awesome skill that David Slitzky has brought to bear on this project, and to the unique relationship that we, the players, have built over the years. It works because it is planned and executed carefully, and because, even separated by time and space, we can anticipate each others’ playing in an intuitive way. I’m grateful for all of it.

Oh, and we recorded a cover. Slitzky’s calling it his magnum opus. You be the judge.

A Plea

Not guilty!

I jest. If you’ve read this far, and you’ve listened to this music, then I think I can assume you like what we’re doing. Do me a favor, think of someone you know who likes this kind of music and point them our way.

This is a bootstrap project. No labels. No A&R. It’s just us working our tails off between our day jobs. We’re going to keep doing this as long as the muse visits, but the only prayer of us ever bringing in a few shekels for our efforts is for word to spread.

So please, help us spread the word.
Thank you,

Over the Battlements b-w Kids

New Single

Hope everyone had a delightful winter break. The last time we sent a single out, there had recently been an election, and so too we now find ourselves releasing music amid the wake of a major event. Suspicious though it may seem, I assure you that such overlaps are entirely coincidental.

None-the-less, we have a single. Our fearless leader, Slitzky, assures me that this recording, “doesn’t suck.” High praise from a man who can’t stand U2. Ask him about it.

Over the Battlements

And with that observation in mind, we now turn to the lyrical content of this particular piece, and so return to one of my more uplifting preoccupations: the trenches of WWI.

Astute listeners will note the odd time signature, which I derived by repeatedly botching a riff while trying to write a Son Volt inspired rock anthem. Most of the song is in 7/4, which is a tough time signature to play in; you constantly feel like the rug is being pulled out from under you. 7/4 has a fine tradition in rock music, most notably “Money” by Pink Floyd and “Solsbury Hill” by Peter Gabriel, but it is unusual and examples are far and few between.

I landed, somewhat accidentally, on this rhythm and thought it would be the perfect backdrop for some thoughts on the horrors experienced by soldiers in war. In my few conversations with veterans about their wartime experiences, I always get a sense of unending tension, interminable stretches of boredom broken by moments of existential terror. I get the sense that the “breaks” are preferable to the monotony, which may go some way toward explaining why some vets find it difficult to transition back to a stable (boring) domestic life.

The western front of WWI seems a particular brand of horror to me; a confined, sodden, semi-subterranean existence punctuated by suicidal forays into all manner of poison and eviscerating obstacles and projectiles. Is it any wonder, then, that the shock of this event cast such a long shadow? From Tolkien’s devilishly mechanized orcs to the rise of Fascism, we see that anyone placed in that situation would question the fundamental truth of their reality.

And so the protagonist of this song, an American Marine, lands in the trenches and oscillates between observations on the absurdity of his position and questions about his seemingly inevitable demise. His sentiment gradually moves from the soldier’s spirit de corps to existential crisis.

I suppose my takeaway from all of this is that we should think very carefully about what could be worth subjecting people to this, and also that we should try, at times, to see the world through the eyes of those who have been through these experiences, both to learn more about them, and possibly, to learn more about ourselves.

This track features the usual cast of characters; Dan Sauve-Rogan, David Slitzky, Niles Krieger, This Guy; as well as a really moving part by Will Violette on Rhodes piano and B3 organ. Will did some work with me on Mobjack and a few other projects here and there, but he’s been kind enough to start sitting in on our annual winter tracking sessions on the regular, for which we are endlessly grateful.


For our semi-monthly cover song, we selected Kids by MGMT. I’ve always thought that this song was deeper than the bubble-gum EDM it’s associated with. It has an elegant structure, a deceptively simple melody, and a compelling narrative for those who care to stop and listen to the lyrics.

My favorite elements of this particular production are Rob Ashley’s ethereal backing vocals and Dan Sauve-Rogan’s earthy bass line. Niles’ fiddle and guitar parts are similarly delicious, and Slitzky once again turns in a performance with Helmsian subtlety.

Tracking Notes

We got together for our annual recording session in late December and, once again, far exceeded our expectations in terms of both quantity and quality. Assuming our semi-monthly release schedule, we now have enough material to continue through 2018. That’s not a typo; we will be releasing new material every other month for at least the next two years.

Needless to say, we’re ecstatic! Overdubs, mixing and mastering continue apace, but the short story is that this project is officially a going concern. Tell your friends…

Keep your ear to the ground for the next release, and in the meantime, send this one along to anyone who you think would enjoy.

Thank you,

By the by, my wife Kathy informs me I used the word “existential” twice in this email.

Ununskewing the Polls

Well, it’s been a hell of a week. Like everyone else in the country, the Caddywhompus staff watched in rapture as the results came in Tuesday night.

ABC, 10:12 PM – “Surprising news coming in from Michigan now, it looks too close to call. This was supposed to be a solid Clinton state. Let’s throw it over to our polling expert, Nate Silver. Nate, what are we seeing here?”

Nate, “So far we’re seeing about a 2% error in the polls, and no doubt, Hillary Clinton is in serious trouble in the electoral college.”

Despair sets in. Most of us fear the return of a 5-4 conservative court, trade wars with our largest trading partner, summary execution of journalists, Rudy Gulianni in any position of power, cats and dogs living together; mass hysteria.

Our mail room guy, Biff, on the other hand, is kicking himself for telling Chris Christie to fuck himself when he took the last hotdog in line at a Country Buffett a month ago. “I was in line for a cabinet position for sure,” he said. “Department of the Interior maybe, who knows?”

“Department of taking it up the Interior, maybe,” our CIO, Dave, chimes in.

Around midnight, something in the coverage catches our attention in a big way. Er’… a bigly way.

NBC, 12:03 AM – “Again, Trump is consistently overperforming his poll numbers. We’re seeing a consistent error in the polls, especially in swing states. This is particularly surprising given the numbers we were seeing out of Knudson Polling, Inc. over the past few months.”

“What the fuck did he just say?!” Dave screeches.

The CIO immediately runs to our server room to check the DNS server address for Sure enough, it’s registered to our company address.

We run, panicked, to Knudson’s office. Locked. We kick in the door.

The window is open, drapes waving in a soft breeze, walls covered with spreadsheet print outs, red lines in lipstick running from one sheet to another, steak knives plunged into the walls at odd intervals, the words “ununskewing the polls” written over and over again on every visible surface, and, in the corner, a tall rack of servers blinking at us to the beat of a nation’s broken heart.

The Interns


It’s been unusually quiet around here… too quiet.

Biff’s back in the mail room, claiming to have given up politics for good. “Really really unfair,” he says mournfully to water cooler passers by, “I can’t be expected to give consistent answers to straightforward questions day after day; it’s not in my nature. Terrible!”

True enough. Last week we asked Biff the whereabouts of a large shipment we were expecting. “I’ve been told by some of my associates, great people by the way, that the order you are referring to was already delivered, but that if it hadn’t been, I would have delivered it myself and made FedEx pay for it. Tremendous.”

“What’s tremendous?”

“The job I’m doing delivering these shipments. Nice.”

“But, you didn’t deliver the shipment. That’s why we’re talking to you right now.”

“Which shipment? Huge.”

“The big one that was supposed to come in last week? Where is it?”

“Big? Like huge?”

“Well… I guess.”

“How huge?”

“I don’t like where this conversation is going.”


This isn’t funny any more.

The Interns

It was Agnew, all Agnew…

Well, our mail room manager, Biff Singleton, didn’t make the top ten; quite surprising, really, when you consider that he accounts for over 50% of the cumulative IQ score of the “kids table.” His numbers are so low, in fact, that he may well be relegated further to the third-tier “kindertable” with Rick Perry and Jim Gilmore.

Biff held a press conference yesterday to denounce the statistical basis of the debate roster selection process as “biased and unfair,” then suggested the more sensible approach would be to simply have a one-on-one debate between Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and himself.

Mortimer Knudson, CPA is lobbying Biff hard for a cabinet position, drawing on his experience in foreign policy as his main selling point.

Our Office Manager, Jen, is having none of it, “Getting caned in Singapore does not count as foreign policy experience.”

“Oh no? How the hell do you think Nixon was so effective as a crime-fighter? Because he knew the minds of his adversaries…” he hissed, tapping his temple with his index finger to indicate exactly where the mind is located.

“Crime-fighter? What was he, the Caped Dick?”

“Don’t you talk about President Nixon like that! Don’t you do it!” Mortimer screamed, slamming his fist on conference room table, then blubbering softly into his buttoned-down, periwinkle blue dress shirt, “he was a great man…” After an awkward silence, Mortimer burst into tears and ran from the room as he whimpered, “he never should have resigned. It was Agnew, all Agnew…”

Mortimer Knudson, CPA spent the rest of the day in the fetal position under his desk. Presumably, the audits can wait.

The Interns


In a brilliant legal shenanigans, we were able to pass off not only the disappearance of the company’s computers, but also the chemical mess in the lounge (including Mortimer’s fish stock) as a natural disaster. The main hurdle was to get around the insurance company’s definition of “force majeure” by sending Mortimer Knudson, CPA to their office. They called us once Mr. Knudson had eaten through the better part of their drapes and floral arrangements to ask that someone kindly stop by to pick him up, at which point we noted that a more focused definition of the aforementioned legal hurdle might speed our arrival.

We received the full claim in our accounts within five minutes and had Mr. Knudson safely back on our premises within the hour.

Also this week, our mail room manager, Biff Singleton, announced his intention to run for the Republican nomination, citing his outsider status as his main qualification. He laid forth several interesting policy positions: building really great walls, extending food stamps to those making more than $300,000 per year, defending the Constitution by changing it, and a rotating first lady position. The majority opinion among the staff is that the final point is what attracted him to the race to begin with.

Our CIO, Dave, pointed out that Biff may have some difficulty differentiating himself from the field, to which Biff replied, “if those Yankees are too stupid to tell a bona fide patriot such as myself from a damned football field, then to hell with them!”

We will keep you apprised of Biff’s progress in Iowa and New Hampshire.


The Interns

There’s Gold In Them Thar’ Computers

You can practically taste the can-do-it-ness around here. Freedom and liberty are in the air. Of course, that could be the fish stock that Mortimer’s been brewing in the company kitchen for two weeks, but there definitely is a whiff of fraternité wafting in on the winds of patriotism… as long as you don’t use too many Frenchy-sounding words to describe it; especially égalité.

We had a difficult morning meeting as our CFO, Mortimer Knudson CPA moved that we begin each work day with the pledge of allegiance, which in and of itself isn’t so bad, except that he also insisted that the pledge be amended to finish “with liberty and justice for all, and for the purity of essence of our bodily fluids.”

We voted down the motion by a slim margin. Mortimer spent the remainder of the meeting muttering “peace on Earth, purity of essence, peace on Earth, purity of essence” under his breath, which led some of us to believe that this was the real reason behind his memo last week urging all employees to change their passwords to “POE.” Luckily Dave, our CIO, put a stop to that.

Dave also took charge of the company BBQ after he discovered that the charcoal that the mysterious Department of Creative Acquisitions procured for the occasion was, if fact, manufactured in Brazil. He instead pulled out three Power Mac G5s that we had lying around and removed the fans and heatsinks, which provided enough heat to cook 30 lbs of hamburger meat in under 20 minutes. One of the interns protested that a) the computers were not made in America either and b) that overheating a device made of lead, zinc, beryllium, tantalum and gold to cook food probably isn’t a good idea.

“Wait, there’s gold in these things?”

Within two hours, the company lounge was wall-to-wall with vats of muriatic acid containing the remains of every computer the company owns. We had to go to the library to finish this newsletter.

Pray the price of gold holds.


The Interns

New Website and New Single – Pigeon Song

After taking a little time off from my band Mobjack, I’ve decided to dust off some older recordings and to start tracking some newer pieces and releasing whatever comes of it.  The plan is to put out a song or two every couple of months until y’all tell me to stop or until the well runs dry.

The new website is (clever, right?) and the new single is on the music tab. You can purchase through that page, which will link you BandCamp where the single is hosted.

This single was recorded with some buddies over New Years weekend 2013-2014.  Niles Krieger, David Slitzky, Dan Sauve-Rogan and Justin Tosti were all on-hand to deliver a boozy interpretation of some songs I’d cooked up over the proceeding months. It is Niles’ professional opinion that these do not suck, and I put a good deal of stock into, well, not all, but a good many of his judgements.

A brief disclosure: you’re getting this email because you were on the Mobjack email list which I unceremoniously raided in the dead of night. Which is to say, if you’re not interested in awesome alternative Americana-roots-rock or whatever, I won’t hold it against you.  There’s an unsubscribe button at the bottom: you’ll never hear another peep out of me.

Except for you, Mom; you have to listen whether you like it or not.

Thank you all for listening and for your support; it means the world to me.

More soon,