Announcing “Americayana”

I’m very pleased to announce the completion of a project that I’ve been working on for more than five years now, a solo album called “Americayana.” I’ve been describing it as Willie Nelson’s Red Headed Stranger meets the Ramayana: each of the ten songs on the album reimagines part of the ancient South Asian epic in 20th-century America, using the idioms of country, blues, and early rock. I spent years studying the narrative traditions surrounding Rama and Sita, from Sanskrit texts to Bollywood retellings, so I’m excited to add my own humble contribution to this particular sea of stories.

The album is currently available to stream and purchase on Bandcamp.com, with other streaming and download services available soon, and a limited number of physical copies (CDs! How quaint!) will be available on cdbaby.com in the near future.

2016 Mixtape: Elegy for a Dumpsterfire

It’s that time again… time for the end-of-the-year mixtape. While I usually just choose my favorite tracks from the year, it felt like this disaster of a year needed to be reflected in the song choices, so you might notice a little more of a narrative embedded in this year’s selections. Here’s to a better year ahead.

My 2015 Mixtape

I started making yearly mixtapes back in high school, when a family friend offered to trade me a subscription to Rolling Stone each Christmas in exchange for keeping her up to date on what the kids were listening to in those days. While I now have not the slightest idea what the kids are listening to today, the wonders of the internet allow me to share that annual mixtape with many more friends, plus a few random strangers. I hope you enjoy, and have great 2016.

Recording: Church Service in Fiji

Back in October, my wife and I were fortunate to be able to take a trip to Fiji, and during the part of our stay when we were in the Yasawa chain of islands, were able to attend a church service in the village of Soso on the island of Naviti.

Music is everywhere in Fiji, and churches are no exception. I recorded some of the songs (and a bit of the preaching) before and during the service. A big vinaka to the church members for allowing us to attend, and for welcoming us so whole-heartedly to their village.

My 2014 Mixtape

Another New Year’s Eve has come and gone, but I’m only slightly past due for the posting of my 2014 mixtape. It probably won’t help your hangover, but maybe give it a listen anyway.

This year’s mix was tougher to put together than last year’s, since while I bought or was gifted over 50 albums this year, only a handful actually came out in 2014—I bought a lot of back-catalog stuff and classic country (Dolly Parton, Pee-Wee King, Buck Owens, etc.). As a result, I threw in a couple of tunes released in 2013 by bands I saw live in 2014 to fill it out (there were also a couple bands I would have added in if they were on Spotify, so you should definitely check out the Jumbo Shrimp Jazz Band and Sarah McCoy if you’re ever down in New Orleans).

Turns out there’s a heavy New Orleans influence in this mix, even without the two artists just mentioned—it includes two acts out of the Crescent City (Big Freedia and Hurray for the Riff-Raff), as well as several tunes that mention NOLA. It wasn’t on purpose, but seems fitting given that the city seems to have become our go-to vacation spot.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy it, and here’s to another year of great music.

A 2013 Mixtape

Yes, friends, it’s that time once again, the time where everyone and their mothers list their year’s favorite everything. As usual, here is a playlist of some of my favorite songs of the past year.

The YouTube playlist below includes at least portions of each of the songs on my list, though some of them are fragments of live performances; you can also check out the Spotify playlist below that, which includes studio recordings but is missing four of the tunes included in the Youtube list (this modern media economy is confusing, innit?).

Anyway, I hope you’ll enjoy and let me know what you think of my selections in the comments. Have a great 2014!

My 2012 Mixtape

From the “Better Late Than Never” file comes my annual best of the year mixtape. I made a conscious effort in 2012 to only buy music that came out that year, so I had a bit of an embarrassment of riches to choose from; as a result, I didn’t include tunes from several just-ok albums here. Did I leave of your favorite song of the year? Probably. Let me know what I missed in the comments.

  • Jack White, “I’m Shakin'” from Blunderbuss

  • The Coup, “My Murder, My Love” from Sorry to Bother You

  • The Avett Brothers, “I Never Knew You” from The Carpenter

  • David Wax Museum, “Harder Before It Gets Easier” from Knock Knock Get Up

  • Best Coast, “Why I Cry” from The Only Place

  • Amadou & Mariam, “Wily Kataso” (feat. Tunde & Kyp of TV on the Radio) from Folila

  • Justin Townes Earle, “Movin’ On” from Nothing’s Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now

  • Japandroids, “Fire’s Highway” from Celebration Rock

  • Kelly Hogan, “We Can’t Have Nice Things” from I Like to Keep Myself in Pain

  • Alabama Shakes, “Hold On” from Boys & Girls

  • Rhett Miller, “Marina” from The Dreamer

  • Norah Jones, “Say Goodbye” from Little Broken Hearts

  • Dr. John, “Big Shot” from Locked Down

  • Heartless Bastards, “Parted Ways” from Arrow

  • Cowboy Junkies, “Unanswered Letter” from The Wilderness

This One Time, on Bandcamp…

I have finally gotten around to creating a Bandcamp site for my music, which will allow me to sell individual tracks or albums for download. I’ve been toying with the idea for a while, and now that I’ve finally done it I can’t believe I waited so long. It has a fairly intuitive interface for artists to upload their work, and a simple (allowing little customization) but elegant end result that also allows me to embed tunes on the music page of my website. At the moment, I have only two songs posted (two tunes I recorded as promos for an upccoming production of Assassins, including a brand-new one, “McKinley’s Gone“), but I intend to add some of my older songs as well as tunes from a new solo project I have in the works.

My 2011 Mixtape

It’s the most magical time of year. Yes, I’m speaking of the time of year when every armchair music critic, myself included, starts reeling off their “best of” lists. Since with last year’s list I finally gave up pretending that I ever listen to full albums anymore, here is a mix of the songs from 2011 that captured my attention. If you’re on Spotify, you can listen to the whole thing there.

  1. “A Candle’s Fire” by Beirut from The Rip Tide
  2. “Born Alone” by Wilco from The Whole Love

  3. “Tree By The River” by Iron & Wine from Kiss Each Other Clean 
  4. “Gangsta” by Tune-Yards from WHOKILL
  5. “Barton Hollow” by The Civil Wars from Barton Hollow
  6. “Get Lost” by Tom Waits from Bad As Me 
  7. “Two Against One (feat. Jack White)” by Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi  from Rome
  8. “Mustache Man” by Cake from Showroom Of Compassion
  9. “Screws Get Loose” by Those Darlins from Screws Get Loose
  10. “Fixin’ To Die”  by G-Love  from Fixin’ To Die
  11. “White Port” by Old 97’s from The Grand Theatre Vol. 2 
  12. “Calamity Song” by The Decemberists  from The King Is Dead
  13. “Hanging from a Hit” by Okkervil River  from I Am Very Far