Author readings are like Yoga class to me; sometimes they can be a bit tough to make it to, but once I’m there I’m always glad I came. I usually pick up something about writing, or the author, or the author’s topic I’m glad to know. I almost always learn something about reading for an audience I didn’t know. I get to hang out at a bookstore for an hour, which is never a waste of time in my book.
When I read to an audience, I always make an effort to read slowly and clearly. I like to read for people, and I think people like to hear me read. Still, in 2004, that didn’t keep me from trying to jazz it up a bit.
We called it a “musical rendering” of Stuck Outside of Phoenix, and it involved triggering sound effects during the reading, kind of like A Prairie Home Companion, and mixing in songs played by me solo acoustic. The sound effects had to be compiled and dumped onto a sampler that I paid too much money for on Ebay. We ran around the city with a microphone and ADAT recorder gathering sound effects—like the sound of a busy restaurant, or a car accelerating, or that ding you hear when you walk into a convenience store. (The convenience store owner let us come in back and put the microphone right up to the speaker. He also let us record the beep, beep, beep sound his cash register made when he punched numbers.)
What we didn’t find around town we recorded ourselves, like the boot stomps of truckers, the clip-clop of a woman’s shoes, the ripping of a ticket. I recruited Jim Gerke to act a few of the bits, and PH Naffah edited everything. In the end, we had background noise for each of the four excerpts, and dozens of sound effects.
We performed this act a few times, and the people who saw it loved it. Luckily, for those of you who didn’t make it, we preserved the reading parts for posterity. (It’s the digital age; nothing ever has to go away completely.) You can now download the excerpts for free from my MySpace Music Page and listen to them at your leisure. There’s lots of fun stuff interspersed with the reading (For example, you may recognize the muzak in the convenience store scene), and we definitely had a blast doing it.
If you’re interested, please download them soon, because in the next month I’m going to start replacing these excerpts with other stuff.
Free downloads, man. What are you waiting for?
Art's MySpace Music Page