Monday, January 14, 2008

First SFM Song Up/Taste of AZ

First of all, you can hear the first cut off Songs from Memory, which is called "You," at my MySpace Audio page. Let me know what you think. Both Ghost Notes and Songs from Memory go on sale at my website on February 4th. Mark it on your calendars!

Next week, it's "Riverboat Captain," the first song I wrote after a six-year hiatus, the first song we recorded for the album, and the theme song of Ghost Notes.

For some reason, Amazon is currently showing a 3 to 6 week wait for Stuck Outside of Phoenix. If you want a copy of Stuck before it goes out of print, I still have them for sale at my website. And I'll sign it, too!

As a few of you probably know, Kevin Guhl was kind enough to put his old Refreshments videos into digital form. What does that mean? It means we can all watch the 1998 Refreshments Taste of AZ show on YouTube!

This was great fun for me, and for others I'm sure, so thank you, Kevin.

A little explanation: the Taste of AZ took place in the parking lot of Sun Devil Stadium, just to the east of the Rio Salado River (this was before the water park), toward the end of the band's existence. I'm guessing this was in the last dozen--maybe last half-dozen--shows we played before breaking up in May of that year. We also flew to a couple of radio shows at the end--one in Charlotte, NC as I recall--and played a few shows in Tempe.

When I first watched this show (Kevin was kind enough to send me a DVD) on my computer, I was struck by how lax we seemed. I attributed this to the fact that we were probably aware that the band was winding down at this point. That bummed me out, so I decided not to watch the rest.

Fortunately, Netflix screwed up our account for a day, and Kel and I were without a DVD one night.

"I've got this Refreshments show this guy sent me," I said.

So we watched it on the big screen, and boy did my opinion change. This gig was after about two years of straight touring, and the tightness (the good kind) showed. It's nice to think we might've sounded like this more often than not on the road.

Other highlights:

Blush's "Mekong" solo. Sick.

"Broken Record" was always one of my favorite Refreshments songs.

Who wants to hear me clank backing vocals? Check out "Fonder." Nice face.

Nice little country ditty.

I love the muzak version of "Banditos." This was composed for KOTH episode 5, "Luann's Saga," and we kept playing it after that.

There's a definite turn-this-dump-over moment at the end of "Banditos." No other band I've ever been in could freak 'em out like that. That's when you felt like you were doing something special, making people forget their inhibitions for a few moments and really cutting loose.

That gig happened 10 years ago this month. Yikes!

Good times. Enjoy, everyone!

For those about to Proust, we salute you.



Ironheart said...

I'd like to say that I don't just follow your writings because you were in The Refreshments. I'm sure it doesn't hurt that you have built-in fans because of that, but I'm sure you also want your new projects to be accepted on their own merits. You were actually kind of a mystery back in The Refreshments days, the seemingly quiet guy who wore zoot suits on stage and played bass behind his head and went off to find his fortunes in the literary world. I really do think you're a talented writer with interesting insights and I'm greatly anticipating "Ghost Notes." I enjoy reading your blogs, The Refreshments ones of course, but also the entries on publishing and other things. "Stuck Outside of Phoenix" initially interested me because it was a rock novel by a guy from my favorite band, but it also was an excellent coming of age story. I felt I might have learned a little something about myself through reading about Hote. I'm intrigued that "Ghost Notes" seems to pick up quite some time after where the first book left off, after Hote got a taste of fame and commercial success, it faded, and then he's left figuring his life out again. I was looking forward to your album after hearing "Birds Sing Redux" and "Nickel," but now I can't wait until Feb. 4 after hearing "You." I love the bass at the beginning and, as I said on your MySpace, it's a very catchy tune that taps into that vibe the Freshies had, yet is its own thing.

BTW, are you doing any readings or concerts in the midwest the week your stuff is released? I might be in Indiana that week, the later part of it.

You're welcome for the DVD. I can understand that it might be hard to watch stuff from that period at first, but I'm glad you did. As you said, the band was in top form musically. Maybe more low key than normal, but maybe some footage of the water wings will show up some day... It was cool to read your notes on the show. I didn't realize the instrumental intro to "Banditos" came about from King of the Hill. It's kind of cool (and kind of surreal) that ten years down the line, you can tune into a new episode of a TV series that regularly features The Refreshments. I've probably made this joke before, but I picture you being like Jerry Seinfeld in that one episode where he was featured in the credits for an oft-shown Japanese television program and was sent tons of royalty checks for like 4 cents each, which resulted in his hand cramping up while he tried to sign them all. King of the Hill is shown A LOT, lol. And yeah, Blush had some killer solos and "Broken Record" was one of my favorites, too, for the quirky lyrics and being a rockin' song.

One highlight for me was the three unreleased songs that featured in that concert. I'm not sure how new they were at that time, but "Easy" and "Tell Yer Mama" sounded fully formed. You can talk to a lot of Freshies/RCPM fans who will tell you they prefer those live versions over the versions that were later recorded in studio or performed live. If songs that were still on the drawing board sounded that good, it shows the incredible talent the four of you possessed and pooled together. It's cool to look back on that, of course, but a decade later, you all have had great creative endeavors of your own.

Art Edwards said...

Wow. So much to comment on. But most importantly, what nice things to say about someone else's work. The Refreshments were always in awe of the class, grace, and selflessness exhibited by the people who came to see us play. We continue to learn a lot from you.

Art Edwards, International Man of Mystery. (Yeah, baby!)

Of course I want people to read Ghost Notes and listen to Songs from Memory and judge them on their own merits. But I'm fully aware that, for many readers and listeners, I work within this thing I'll call the Refreshments milieu, as the other members do, and I'm quite content to work within that, if that's what makes them curious about my other work. There are worse things in the world than walking into a room and having people look at you and think, "Refreshments." They tend to be interested in your current work by osmosis, and that's fine with me.

We are working very hard to get the Midwest tour down for the end of March. I don't see Indy working out for the time you're there, but something will work out this year for the East Coast, if it comes to that.

*King of the Hill* was a wonderful, lucky gift. Someone out there is looking out for us. My arm never gets tired!

Look for a new tune next week, folks. This train is just starting.


K said...

Hi, Art! It's no secret I'm Brian's biggest fan and those videos sent me right to Blush heaven! Man! He was the epitome of cool onstage. He had that Steve McQueen kind of cool goin' on with the cigarette hangin' out of his mouth while he played, and he played fabulously as always. You're right about "Mekong" and I never, ever tire of the "Banditos" intro when Brian kicks in and that guitar is simply musical magic. If I could find a way to mainline that, I'd be one happy gal! And, YOU! How much fun it was to watch you up close and a little more personal than I've seen on video before. Great times that I'm sorry I missed live shows of, but I'm so grateful to Kevin for providing the dvd to those of us who can't get enough Refreshments fix. Any chance you'll be in Brian's neck of the woods and I could get a double fix and see you both later this year? *hint-hint* I'll be on the lookout for that. I'll also anxiously await "Ghost Notes." Love "Stuck"! Take care, ~ K

Ironheart said...

Just an addendum. Thanks to, I was able to dig up a long-dead page that lists (possibly) every Refreshments gig. It's here:

According to this site, The Refreshments only played seven more shows after that Taste of AZ show on the video. It also has a setlist, so we can see what songs the cameraman didn't get on tape. I was kinda bummed that "Nada" wasn't included, but it looks like it wasn't played, anyway. The biggest surprise is that it claims the show was in March, not in January like was marked on the original VHS tape I have. So, I apologize for the possibly incorrect info. Hey, not quite a decade!

March 7, 1998 - Rio Salado By Sundevil Stadium: Tempe, AZ
Taste of Arizona Festival.
A makeshift stage at the Rio Salado Riverbottom
support act: ???, Bit o' Jane, Lemon Krayola, Naked
set: Wanted, Down Together, Easy, Mekong, Fonder and Blonder, Banditos, Broken Record, Tell Yer Momma, Interstate, Good Year, Never Thought, Dolly, Mexico, Girly, Triangles and Yahoos
enc: European Swallow/Kiss Off

A Brian/Buddy reunion for a night would be awesome to see...

Art Edwards said...

I'm pretty sure it was January.


Kerry said...

Greetings Art and fans!

This is my first post after a chance stumbling upon this incredible blog yesterday afternoon. I have been fortunate enough to move back to Arizona after a several year hiatus in Indianapolis, where I still work. I was at the Peacemaker record release this past Saturday. Hearing several of the old songs encouraged me to go out and do some Googling to see what Refreshment’s content was out there.

I don’t want to stall on this point because it seems trivial and self centered but I would like to at least proudly acknowledge that I am the cameraman and originator of the bootleg for the Taste of Arizona show now in circulation. I have compared the You Tube videos very closely to the original content to verify and I am positive that it is a match. I am surprised that the audio and video tracks are out of sync in the You Tube broadcasts I have seen but otherwise it is ‘spot on.’

For those of you that care about the details I can ensure that it was March. I have the original VHS ‘C’ tapes that this was recorded on and I wrote the dates and times down on the tapes that evening. There is also an AZ Republic review of the show somewhere. It was originally two tapes because the VHS ‘C’ tapes were very short. The camera battery time was also limited which is why I lost the last 4-5 songs. I have 5-10 second snippets of ‘Dolly’ and ‘Mexico’ before the thing completely died. Roger made a dedication of some sort to a local DJ at the beginning of ‘Dolly’ and then I lost the rest. I was trying to preserve battery life for much of the show which is the reason that the ‘muzak’ version of ‘Banditos’ is cut off at the beginning.

As a tribute to my friends that were with me that night I can tell you that if you listen closely to ‘Down Together’ you will hear the guy standing next to me yell ‘Dead Hot Work-place’ as opposed to the correct line ‘Dead Hot Workshop.’ That’s one of my best friends that moved from Wisconsin to Arizona with me in 1997 just out of college, Kyle Tjader. He now lives in Buckeye, Arizona with his wife and daughter. “Hey Kyle, you’re on You Tube messing up classic rock and roll lyrics.” :)

To close that point, I am going to try to track down some way to digitize the original VHS ‘C’ tapes so that there is at least a slightly better version of this show available. I believe the camera I shot these with is dead. At the time I only shared this recording with one fan in Tempe with whom I traded it for the Hayden Square Bottle and Fresh Horses in September 1997 (I think) release concert video. I am very happy to have had the chance to capture this moment in time

Thank you for your new work as well as sharing your reflection of life with the band. I look forward to reading your books and listening to your new music. Working weekly in Indianapolis should provide an opportunity to hear you perform live some day soon. And thanks for the time you dedicated to ‘being’ the Refreshments. Those recordings will always be among my favorites of all time.

Art Edwards said...

Thanks, Kerry.

Very cool to know the ins and outs of what we're seeing, and thanks for holding that camera up for the set! It's those little inconveniences that usually lead to people going, "Aw, hell with it."

This is some of the only live footage (of I don't know how many shows) that exists of the band, as far as I can tell. What a shame. But thank goodness you took care of business that day.