As of this writing (summer of 2017), my emphasis has shifted somewhat back to music, though I’m still working on various writing projects and journalism. My fifth album, Ad Out, will be released on October 20 by (the underfunded and criminal) Soft Launch Records. It was produced by John Munson, recorded by Steve Kaul and John, mixed by Jason Orris, and mastered by Greg Reierson. Jacob Allers-Hatlie did the art and hand-lettering, and Karl Raschke designed the LP and CD packages. The core band is me on vocals, piano, and few bars of guitar; John on bass, vocals, and assorted instruments; Adam Levy on guitar; and Richard Medek on drums. It also features (in alphabetical order) Ken Chastain, Terry Eason, Matthew Hanzelka, Sten Johnson, Doug Little, Dean Magraw, Joe Savage, Brian Tighe, and Janey Winterbauer. It’s good! I hope it will be available from a variety of retailers, but perhaps the easiest way to buy it will be through Bandcamp. The album will be available a on long-playing vinyl, CD, and as a digital download.
My previous album, Dylan Hicks Sings Bolling Greene, was a companion to my novel. You can stream or buy the CD or LP on Bandcamp, or buy it at select Twin Cities stores (for now, try Treehouse, the Electric Fetus, or Roadrunner). And the novel comes with a free download code, so you could get the music that way. The album’s brief notes to some extent try to proceed as if Bolling were a nonfictional country singer, though not to the point of giving him songwriting credit in the fine print, which isn’t really that fine. Despite the album’s title, only five of the album’s songs are, to my mind, covers of songs by this secondary character in my novel, and even these are somewhat free interpretations, with a few anachronisms and perhaps two or three lines that Greene wouldn’t have entertained or tolerated. The remaining songs derive from the novel’s narrative in other ways, or borrow some of its phrases, images, or themes.
I keep insisting that Bolling Greene is fictional, but the brilliant Jon Hunt found one of his old LPs at an estate sale (cover shown below, right).
My earlier recordings are for the most part out of print, though you can buy digital versions of some of them on various sites, and the CDs seem to show up used with some frequency, at prices that smile on the bargain hunter.
It’s psychologically convenient to think one is constantly improving and producing one’s best work, which of course is often not the case, but I do think the songs I’ve been writing in midlife are by and large more distinctive than the ones I wrote in youth or relative youth, and I probably sing more reliably in tune these days–that said, I did get to play with some outstanding musicians and friends in my twenties, and there are some highlights on the earlier albums. The first album, Won, was recorded in ten days, I think, with Golf Ball-Sized Boogie: Terry Eason, John Guion, and Mark Herr, and several guests. My favorites on that one are “Police State,” “Governor of Fun,” and “Hal Blaine.” Poughkeepsie (original title: Midwestern Singer-Songwriter Buys Sampler) was recorded with that band and with other players in various professional and home studios over a longer period. Andy Bryant did most of the recording. People who know the earlier albums seem to like that one best; it wasn’t a great period for me personally, and my memory of the album is to some extent colored by that. I still play “$100 Bill” and a few other Poughkeepsie songs and sometimes get requests for ones I’ve forgotten. Someday I’ll relearn them! By the time of Alive with Pleasure, I was writing mostly on piano and moving closer to the stuff I’ve done lately, but also hanging it up for a while to go back to school and try some other things. At the time it seemed like an advance over the earlier albums, but I might have judged wrong.
My jocular and somewhat punky forty-fives and cassettes were mainly recorded with Dylan Hicks + 3 Pesos, which in its longest-lived configuration was Al Lehman on guitar, Steve Parker on bass, Pat O’Brien on drums, and me on vocals and rhythm guitar. Terry Eason played guitar for the earliest gigs and on the first cassette. Vision Web, funny in spots, was made on my own in a weekend (a caveat, not a boast).
Here’s s a partial discography, poorly researched:
- 2017, Ad Out, LP, CD, and download (Soft Launch Records)
- 2012, Dylan Hicks Sings Bolling Greene, CD, LP, and download (Two Deuces)
- 2001, Alive with Pleasure, CD (No Alternative Records)
- 1998, Poughkeepsie, CD (No Alternative Records)
- 1997 (?), Vision Web (as dylan davis), cassette (self-released)
- 1996, Won, CD (No Alternative Records)
- 1994 (?), “Time Capsule,” forty-five RPM single (Prospective Records)
- 1992 (?), “Chump Remover,” forty-five RPM single EP (Prospective Records)
- 1990, The New Dylan, cassette (self-released)
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