“FRODO! If I take one more step it’ll be the farthest away from The Shire I’ve ever been.”
In two days time I travel to Lynchburg, Virginia for a Two Spies show at the Whitehart Cafe. This will officially be the most distant gig from home I’ve ever played. How exciting. I sometimes do miss my rock n roll roots but this folky thing has been a lot of fun and it has afforded me the opportunity to get my original music out there in a much bigger way. That’s been a blessing.
What a busy, busy Summer. With the addition of bass player & vocalist Carolyn Munn upgrading Two Spies from a duo to a trio, we’ve honestly been receiving rave reviews, which is welcomed considering the work we’ve put into our original music and social media since January 2015. Things are starting to reach a certain momentum and venues are finally calling us to book shows instead of the other way around. It seems our particular brand of folk Americana with bluegrass instrumentation has struck a chord and we do seem to be filling a niche. I’m not aware of another group quite like us in the region.
I know we are all enjoying the weekly, or in some cases twice weekly shows, but it will be good to get a break to develop new material and work on the record over in November.
My Mando skills are definitely coming along. I’m getting more and more comfortable with the scales and it’s starting to really feel a part of me, as the guitar does. What to add to my tool box next? Fiddle? Lap Steel? Nothing but time and instruments to be discovered. Hi Diddly Dee! A musicians life for me.
Well, I’ve been in hyper-artist mode between Two Spies and script writing and storyboard rendering. It’s funny how often times the busier I am the more the creative vibes want to flow. I try to always let them. You knows when inspiration will come or go. I’m here for a finite time and have a lot of art to make in that time.
The musical thing is going really well at the moment. I seem to have finally found the write people to forge a new body of music with and I am very very happy about that. Americana is a really honest sounding and feeling genre to work in and it kind of comes naturally to me.
Presently, The Two Spies Trio is coming up on the 3 performance of our 9 week Summer 2015 – Americana tour. So far we’ve played a show at Badin Treehouse Co in where else but Badin, NC, this weekend it was Provisions Local Market in Waxhaw and this Saturday it’s a 1 hour set at Albemarle Nutrition from 1 – 2. Following that we’ll be returning to the legendary Harmancos on September 4th for a long Friday night show. September 12 it’s Morgan’s Tavern in Stanfield which we’ve never played before, then off to Lynchburg Virginia o September 19th to play the White Hart Cafe. BTW, that’s our first out of state booking so that is pretty cool. Afterwards, more local area gigs up through Oct 9th.
Hopefully, after this flurry of shows we’ll to get back into the studio and polish off our debut record, “Following The Road.” We continued to produce new original Americana songs at the rate of about 1 every two weeks. Each song seems to be something better than the last one so that is an exciting state to be in with a band. Further out perhaps we’ll see Two Spies as a fully formed electric band. Hey, it worked out O.K. for Mr Dylan when he went electric right?
Well, I’ve lost a few more lbs still but nothing super dramatic yet. I’ve been so busy with the music it’s kind of diverted me from proper exercise but frankly I plan to correct that post haste! I’m starting a new cleanse with Nancee today and those are never easy but they do kick off weigh loss in most cases. This morning it was a lemon juice and vinegar concoction. Not too bad. Let the record state that this morning my weight was at 325.5lbs. 250 is a long ways off but I will get there either before or after I begin my hiking on the AT this fall.
On that note I’ve done zero training hiking since the short jaunt with Big Daddy months ago. It’s been awfully hot and that’s starting to change now so I hope to get myself on the Morrow Mountain trails very soon.
Yesterday, I did something I haven’t done in many years. I took in a double feature at Eastgate Cinemas. I saw Sinister 2 which was good but too predictable after having seen the original, then I saw Hitman: Number 47. A decent over the top action spectacle but the story and some of the abilities of the protagonist were absolutely ridiculous. It was an ok diversion from editing Two Spies videos for a half a day. Since school started back today, the theater was practically deserted so that was kind of cool.
I’ve been making some really cool renders for the new script storyboards and part of that I kind of talked Les over at Sixus1 into building me a set piece for those to mimic the real life location of Rocky River Mini Storage. The W.I.P. Shots from Maya he has shared so far look super accurate! Very cool stuff. I should be such a geek about commissioning Poser items to be built for me when the money could have probably served the production better as part of the shooting budget, but this might not film until fall of 2016. I want to pour all the effort I can into pre-production. It’s effective at helping me make a better film and most importantly it is fun! Writing the best script in the world costs you zero. I find the indie folks often gloss through the scripting process to get to the actual shooting which the view as the fun, particularly if they are actor types. Not me. Scripting is the business where the sky is literally the limit.
In closing I’d like to share our performance of a very old spiritual tune from Saturday’s 2nd set.
Well, I’ve played many shows in many types of places with my legacy bands and acoustic collaborations over the years. If all goes as planned, in two weeks I can add grocery store to that list of venues. Ever since I heard that cute pixie of an actress, Rachael Leigh Cook utter the words, “What’s up shoppers” in her roles as Josie McCoy in the 2001 film Josie and the Pussycats before belting out a little rock ditty right inside a grocery store, I’ve thought what a bizarre places to rock a live show. The audience must be thrilled, amazed or possibly annoyed to be encountering live music as they scurry about collecting their food stocks.
Speaking of first time things occurring, I reckon there are a lot of first coming up for Brento and musical crew. For the first time I’ve been booked to play a show out of state. It’s probably the first time I’ve been booked to play for 8 consecutive weeks. I’ve joked that we should be the tightest trio ever by the end of this string of shows. The band of Iron!
If you can call Albemarles’ 3 or 4 restaurants and bars that have music at all a scene, then we are on it! Gigging all the time is great. The only downside is that I really have to scrape to find sufficient practice time. Terry and I try to add something new for each show. That’s tough when sometimes you have as many as 3 shows in 2 weeks. I’m also working hard to edit and upload videos from each performance to track our rise to domination! LOL!
We’re in another stretch where we have 2 gigs in less than two week. This time it’s Harmanco’s on the 15th and Little Tokyo Lounge on Thursday the 17th. Looks like we’ll be adding another JR Cash tune and a new Dylan song or two.
It’s a nice problem to have. I guess ole Todd was wrong. People do love ballads and emotional pop songs. Two Spies is on track to complete more gigs in a year than AZ had in it’s 20 plus year history. To boot, we get paid for most of our performances. I like it! my wife Nancee swears it’s the mandolin. According to her, chics love mandolin. I’m thinking it’s probably the broader range of covers and laid back folk Americana stylings of the originals we do. It’s one thing to hold your ground and only play original alt rock if that’s your thing, but likely you’ll spend most of your time playing in a basement somewhere. It’s so much more gratifying to get to share our new songs with audiences. I should have switched to this format 10 years ago, but then I didn’t know Terry and of course he’s a funadmental component of the Two Spies sound. I’m just glad to be hear now and having these experiences playing my music in public.
Well, I’d have to say that this weekend was pretty epic. Friday night kicked it all off with a Two Spies show at the legendary Harmanco’s. This was a bigger show than we’ve done previous and our second time as a group at this establishment. We’ve expanded our covers a bit, brought up two more original and added a bit of a light show. The lights being brand new gear meant setup took a little longer. I want to say that we start loading in around 6:15 and after an 8 – 12 show with only a few short breaks, we finally left at 2 AM. As is tradition, I pulled the media before going to bed, putting me on my pillow at 3 AM.
Now the plan for Saturday was to drop Nancee of at work and then spend the day catching up on sleep and editing video while I watched a few items for the VHS Graveyard. That was the plan. What went down was a lot different of course. I would up getting back home just in time to unload the A so Summer could take vehicle to the store to work since she had slept in, as is her custom.
I got a message on Facebook that sort of got overlooked for months due to it being from someone not in my friends list. It was a nice little message thanking me for doing Brento’s Budget Film Making Podcast. That’s the first such message I’ve received acknowledging the effort put into that little show. It was really cool to get that. That makes me think that I should do a show on creating no budget music videos. BBFMP was often overshadowed by it’s much more put together big brother show, MVP Mutant Radio, which is now, sadly defunct, at least for the time being.
Anyways, great to be acknowledged and shout out to show listener, Krutin Amin, of Hanover Park, Illinois. Thanks for your message, Buddy. I’ll keep on making them if you keep on listening.
At the current time, I’m working on a music video for Braden Harwood. Additionally, I have 3 other videos lined up to create as time allows, including one for Two Spies, though, obviously I’ll need help for that one. These things are like short films and as such, they make great anecdotes for BBFMP. It’s all great experience that I look forward to sharing on the show. Read more “BBFMP, Music Videos, Two Spies & New Art”
Back In the 2000’s, I rocked Harmancos with my alt rock outfit, Absolute Zero. I was recently invited to back and perform by the new owners. I let them know that I was now in an Acoutic Duo called, Two Spies and they booked us sight unseen.
Last Friday, March 27th, Terry and I gave our first full length show as Two Spies to an appreciative crowd. At times, the places was totally full and even up until the last song around 12:15 am, there was still a small crowd.
Some of Terry’s family came out and gave some fantastic support and then plenty of the happenstance customers really seemed to like what we were laying down. It was a really fun show and I’m so glad I finally got a chance to play in the remodeled Harmancos.
They were kind enough to rebook us before we left so it looks like we will be back there on Friday, May 1st, 2015. Come check us out! Great place to get a meal and catch a show.
Well what can I say about Jamie Wilburn and his new brand along with wife Jennifer, “From NC With Love?” They were awesome enough to come out and shoot some shots of me following my music passion along with my partner in crime, Terry Whittenburg. It’s a neat little slant on a photography service that puts the focus on the beauty and diversity of both the people and places of North Carolina. I literally wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in the world. It really is wonderful here and the Wilburn’s have managed to highlight it in such a clever and attractive manner with their new brand.
I’ve bragged to many folks that when it comes to visual design and photography, Jamie’s been gifted and consistently produces both layout and composition works that blow me away. I’ve been a visual design professionally for over 15 years and I’ve seen and worked lot of really great designers like, “Ben Rubeck” for instance. I put J.W. At the top of designers who just seem to really have a knack for it. As for me, I’ve always had to really try a lot of things and look at a lot of comps in Photoshop before arriving at the design, but I digress. Jamie’s got skills and now I know his wife does as well.
Sometimes, I’d like to harvest the crumbs from Jamie’s table of cool ideas. I could really see, “From NC With Love,” take off. If you’ve got an NC business or event to promote with some standout photography, hit them up. Read more “From NC With Love – Two Spies”
I wish a Happy St. Patrick’s Day to one and all. This year I actually got to do a St Paddy’s day themed performance along with my acoustic duo, Two Spies, albeit a few days shy of the holiday. Read on to check out the images from the day.
I don’t often dress the part but this year I did manage to wear a green tie. I had a green vest and kerchief, but I couldn’t bring myself to go that far. We actually managed to get in not one but two Irish tunes. I’ve posted the one below here before, but what the hay? Here is it again.
Here’s a bit from ye ole Wikipedia on the holiday.
Saint Patrick’s Day, or the Feast of Saint Patrick (Irish: Lá Fhéile Pádraig, “the Day of the Festival of Patrick”), is a cultural and religious celebration held on 17 March, the traditional death date of Saint Patrick (c. AD 385–461), the foremost patron saint of Ireland.
What a fun Saturday! Good friends and good music!
Big thanks to my buddy and probably best photographer I know, Jamie Wilburn for coming out to shoot Two Spies at the Stony Mountain Winery 3rd annual St Patrick’s Day celebration. We had a fun time and fairly solid performance in my estimation. We even added an Irish Jig called, “Swallow Tail Jig” to our repertoire as well as an Irish themed Johnny Cash number called, “Forty Shades of Green.”
The crowd seemed to enjoy the performance, but there was that strange delay between the end of the song and the start of the clapping which generally occurs when a crowd gets too drunk. I know that by the end of the day a number of people had to be carried out and I find myself pity anyone willing to be a public drunk. I try not to be too judgmental of tipplers, but being a teetotaler myself, I find no use for alcohol. When you see someone having passed out from imbibing drink, I think it’s fairly clear that they do have a problem. Alcohol can be consumed responsible I presume but I only have a few friends who seem to have managed that. Most of them drink to get drunk and I do find that to be sad frankly.
My hatred of all tobacco and the utter uselessness of it is well known by my friends so I won’t even go into that now. At many venues all the smoking by the front door and in any of the outside areas kind of sullies the whole experience for me. I still find it amazing that in the light of current medical knowledge anyone would still choose to smoke. It’s like rolling the dice where you might win a small buss the first few times you smoke versus potentially loosing many years of your life. Wake up People! It killed Leonard Nimoy 30 years after he quit. Call me conservative, but that is a risk I just cannot understand people taking. Read more “Two Spies – The Legend Grows”