Mixin’ With Strand of Oaks
Filed under: Mixin' With Series,Mixtapes | Posted by: jody
Timothy Showalter, aka Strand of Oaks, has given us his “Top 10 Songs to Stare at My Velvet Pegasus Painting” mixtape, a magical little collection of tunes by Chet Atkins, John Renbourn, Wendy (Walter) Carlos and more. Showalter, an Indiana Mennonite turned Pennsylvania Hebrew Day school teacher, just released his first full length album, In Ruins, on January 27th via La Société Expéditionnaire. It’s a brilliant record that I haven’t been able to take out of my stereo since I received it last week, though I might have to make a 46 minute, 20 second exception in honor of Showalter’s lovely Pegasus-themed mix. Strand of Oaks has a handful of dates coming up with Lewis & Clarke, including a special Valentine’s Day show at the Nave Gallery in Somerville, MA. Also, keep your eyes open for news on an April Tour that will take him through the South and the Midwest. The Mixtape and tour dates are after the jump.
1. John Renbourn- “Willy O’ Winsbury”
I’ve listened to this story hundreds of times. “If I was a woman, as I am a man, my bedfellow you would have been”. This line is so beautiful especially coming from a King whose daughter had just been knocked up by Willy. The song makes me want to board Pegasus and fly to Aberdeen.
2. Gordon Lightfoot – “Walls”
When I hear this tune I always picture myself as a cast member on Little House on the Prairie. I’m just a young guy that might work at the mill with Charles. Its really chill episode and nobody is drowning or accidently burning down a barn. Charles and I just need to ride up to Mankato for a delivery. I’m getting some awesome life advice from Mr. Ingalls and this song is just mellowing out in the background somewhere. We both know that Caroline has some sweet corn bread baking back home.
3. Bruce Springsteen – “The River”
No jokes. Find the smallest room you can, shut the door, listen. “Is a dream a lie that don’t come true, or is it something worse?” This is not a song that you’ll hear at the Super Bowl. There is no party, no sax solos, just pure reflection.
4. Skip Spence – “Weighted Down”
This is a late night song, I guess it’s a late night record. This song reminds of having the spins and not being able to sleep. This is a cheap wine song. You might have started with dinner, then kept going while you watched a movie, then played some guitar, then tried to lie down, and finally just needed to sit a while. Times like this are when I’ve really gotten to know Skip throughout the years. I always feel like he recorded this record in a similar state (maybe with a bit more delirium mixed in). The bass barely follows the guitar and his voice is deeper than ever. Skip needs sleep, I need sleep, but we both can’t seem to find it.
5. Exuma – “You Don’t Know What’s Going On”
Bahamian-Shaman-Folk-Guru. The best song I’ve ever heard. A million times more magical than a Pegasus. I think Exuma invented the Pegasus. This is not dark, this old shit, a lot older than Jesus. He writes about the most tangible subjects, like the sun coming up or making babies with someone. Find this song and listen to it thousands of times. “You can’t take the sun from the sky, or put the light back in Ray Charles eye”. Damn. I want to talk with you after you hear this, have dinner, go for a swim, sharpen some knives, this is a heavy song.
6. Jason Molina – “Long Desert Train”
Sometimes magic won’t save you. Molina knows this. I specifically remember listening to this record while taking a bath. The record started warm, but by the time I flipped it and this song came on, the bath lost all its comfort. I didn’t get out; I just kept listening to the song. Lonesome is not a romantic word for me. It represents getting out of the bath, eating old pasta, hoping that a friend calls you to go out to the bar. They don’t call so you walk down the street to a sports bar and sit alone. It’s super loud there and crowded. You feel more alone there ever. You take a six pack back to the house and put on the record again. You start wishing that Pegasus would save whoever Molina is singing about and bring her to you. You’d make coffee, talk, and then draw her a warm bath. I hate being lonely.
7. Great Bear – “Took It To Long”
My future father-in-law played bass in this band. It’s the 70’s, there’s a synth, and total Northeastern PA swagger. You can still find this record if you’re lucky. My friend actually found it in Brooklyn. I also picked it because the cover has a Grizzly Bear perching on a snowy peak. It always feels like the bear is challenging Pegasus to a battle. I have absolutely no idea who would win, but God it would be amazing to watch.
8. Lewis & Clarke – “Bloody Coat Live on WPRB”
Incestuous, Yup. I don’t care. It’s my best friend singing about some painful things over the top of devastatingly beautiful music. This music is close to me. I hear it and picture how the guys were sitting in the studio. I know and anticipate Dave picking up the banjo and Russell doing something crazy with his instruments. I shut my eyes when I sing live, Lou keeps them wide open. This probably explains a lot about us and the music we make. Lou talks about regret in a productive way, it’s like a father telling a cautionary tale. The best songs are the ones that demand attention, anything less than that feels like disrespecting the advice that he is so graciously giving.
9. Chet Atkins – “S L I N K E Y”
This song only comes on when the good times are around. Its Saturday morning, I’ve got a National Geo’ on my lap, fresh grapefruit, and French pressed coffee. I dare you not to smile and groove a little. Chet rocks the Tremolo on this tune. I’m going to dance with my grandchildren to this.
10. Walter Carlos (Bach) – “Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G major”
No other song better encapsulates the Pegasus. The whole record is great but this piece sounds like a Pegasus would move. It prances but without any weight. This is how I imagine Pegasus mid flight. The bass MOOG tones represent his powerful wings and the lightly resonant leads are his lightly dancing feet. I think the word I’m looking for her is prominence. Am I weirdo, probably?
Upcoming Tour Dates:
Feb 14 2009 Nave Gallery (with Lewis & Clarke and Audrey Ryan) Somerville, MA
Feb 15 2009 Hampshire College (with Lewis & Clarke) Amherst, MA
Feb 26 2009 Eckhaus Gallery (with Lewis & Clarke) Kutztown, PA
Mar 31 2009 The Bog (with Cotton Jones) Scranton, PA
Apr 12 2009 Cafe Montmarte Madison, WI
Apr 16 2009 Garfield Artworks Pittsburgh, PA
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