Los Blues Guys – Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door

I’ve spent much of today working over a tape that’s labeled ‘(Best of) Los Blues Guys at ArmadilloCon 10/11/91’. I think Brad or Scott prepared it, but I’m not sure. It’s one of the cleanest tapes in my inventory. I only had to do some noise reduction for tape hiss, pull out some low-freq rumble, slice off a little top end, add a tiny splash of reverb for ambience, do a low-level double, and then punch it hard in the head for loudness — hopefully without destroying too many transients.

There’s a lot of Unca Scott goodness coming your way in the next week, but tonight I’m posting a sublime rendering of Bob Dylan’s:


Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door


I don’t remember who was playing that night. It’s definitely me hogging much of the solo guitar work, but we had a guest on this song who spun out some monster tasty licks. Maybe Patrick Nielsen Hayden? Will Shetterly? EDIT: Will says he wasn’t playing on it. It was definitely Patrick.

Brad was on drums and lead vocal, of course. Unca Stevie on harmonica and keyboards. Unca Scott on rhythm guitar. Casey Hamilton on bass. Based on evidence from other songs, I think Emma Bull was doing the backup vocals. EDIT: And also backup vocals from Patrick. Yay! Backups are sounding really sweet on this one.

We always play this one as the closer for the night, and for most of our private jams. For me, at least, it’s in memory of Geary Rachel. My daughter couldn’t pronounce his name right when she was a toddler, so he became everybody’s Uncle Gilo.

Gilo was ridiculously intelligent, went from being a symphonic horn player to a nationally-known database programmer when his diabetic retinopathy made him unable to read orchestral music. He could be insanely bull-headed, and he too often assumed that the people around him were as smart as he was, leading to much frustration on both sides.

He was the bravest person I’ve ever known, and likely the most vibrantly alive. He knew that he’d never be old, so he grabbed every day he had.

He was married to my sister for awhile, and it’s no exaggeration to say that he saved my life and sanity several times when I was in the worst depths of my divorce.

He was my brother, and I loved him, and still miss him terribly.

Here’s a song for you, Uncle Gilo.



Pic credit to Unca Stevie Hillary Segl.

14 thoughts on “Los Blues Guys – Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door

  1. I have absolutely no memory of playing this particular song, but I certainly remember the night. Emma Bull and I were onstage for just about your whole second set. (I very distinctly remember that we covered Emma’s song “For It All,” from the Cats Laughing Another Way to Travel CD, as well as Alan Jackson’s “Buy Me a Mercury Blues.”) That’s definitely my voice in the backing vocals alongside her–I can hear myself right from the first “oo oo”‘s.

    And that second lead guitar is definitely me; I can hear several of my bad habits in it. Back then I’d been a living-room acoustic guitarist for two decades, but I’d only recently acquired a solid-body electric guitar and starting figuring it out. Those Armadillocon Los Blues Guys shows in 1990 and 1991 were just about the first time since my teens that I jammed live with other people in an actual fully electrified rock ensemble, and they had quite a lot to do with motivating me to get off my ass and eventually get into a band of my own. I’d love to get a copy of anything else you have from this set.

  2. Patrick. Yay! I’m glad you checked in to help clarify this one. I’ll edit my post when I get a chance today.

    …And I don’t hear any bad habits there. Just some good playing. Of course, we all generally hear imperfections in our own performances that no one else would ever notice…

    I’ve been transferring the tape song-by-song, but, if you’d like, I’ll record all the way through on it, maybe do some noise reduction, and send you a link for an FTP download from here.

    It does have ‘Mercury Blues’ and a couple of others that y’all played and sang on, but I don’t think it has ‘For It All’. I’ll check through a couple of other tapes to see what I’ve got that you might be interested in.

    I’m planning on monkeying with at least half a dozen other songs from this tape and posting them here. There are a couple of really , uh, non-brilliant performances in there, frequently from me. But there was some good energy that night, and some excellent playing and singing.

    Will — Good to see you! If you’re up for it, could you check with Emma and see how she might feel about me posting ‘For It All’ if I can find it. I could swear I’ve heard it on one of the tapes I have. I also plan to post her and Patrick and (maybe) Tom Maddox doing ‘Mercury Blues’ from this tape. It rocked pretty hard, IMHO. Emma’s got a a great voice!

  3. Slight correction on the reason he stopped playing trumpet. It wasn’t that he couldn’t read music…it was that the pressure increases in his head while playing trumpet made blindness a certainty if he continued (from increased bleeding from the retinas.)

  4. Ah. Thanks, for the detail, Steve. I know that, after all the laser treatments, he said he couldn’t read music at speed any more, but hadn’t caught that that might not have been the original reason. He did quit playing his horn entirely, I think, but I had thought that was just him putting things behind him.

    Dammit, I wish he was still around.


    And, yeah, I don’t think there’s any harp in this song. But there’s LOTS of harp in some of the other ones from this tape that I’ll be posting.

  5. i will have to listen to this, even tho my dial up (yeah i’m still old school here) will make it a long down load, but it will be worth it. I love that song.

  6. I put this on my ipod and listened to it again on the way home. That was some prime playing by you, Rory. Great expressive, mellow, tubular, note-bending sound.

    And Brad was on fire. I’m always amazed at people who can sing while drumming, and this is almost a supernatural example; it would have been a good vocal and terrific drumming even if it had been two completely separate people.

    Arrange another one of these shows and you’ll get me to come back to Dillocon–this time, with a decent guitar.

  7. Patrick — Thanks, man! We all kinda did not suck on that song that particular night. It’s probably the best one on the tape, but there are some other gems, IMHO. And I plan to post them.

    The hard thing, as I suspect you know, is that, when you’ve played on the song, it’s hard to hear past your own playing and just let the sound flow through you. It still makes mixing extra-hard for me, and I ain’t all that pro at mixing to start with.

    Brad effing owned that song. And the backup vocals really do take it over the top.

    James — Yeah, I encode my MP3s at 320, which makes them huge, around three times as big as most MP3s you’ll usually run into. This one is 18 MB for a song that runs 6+ minutes. I don’t have golden ears, but I can definitely hear the difference between a 24-bit WAV render and a 128kbps MP3 render. All kinds of nuance is just junked out. But — if it’s a struggle for you, I can render at 128 and point you to a download here that will run about 6 MB.

    Sorry you’re still connecting to the Tubez with 19th-century technology…. Been there, done that, hated it….Lemme know…

  8. Oh, WOW! Rory, man, post anything you want from that show, definitely including “For It All.” We had So. Much. Fun. up there. (And we wuz mighty sharp-dressed, too. *g*)

    I’m so glad you recorded this, and that it turned out!

  9. Hey, Emma! It’s good to hear your voice here!

    ‘Cause you got a killer voice. I haven’t yet found ‘For It All’, and am beginning to wonder if I hallucinated that I have it. but I’ll keep looking.

    Right now, I have to go to the Dem caucus, but when I get back, I’ll post a ‘soulful’ surprise that I just finished rendering… It rocks pretty hard.

  10. I got a friend to down load it for me and my ghod thats beautiful. I loved it so much. Then again i always love music, especially when its a bunch of people playing for the love of making music….

  11. Okay, so I kinda f/u’ed the mix of ‘Heaven’s Door’ that I posted here originally.

    As usual, my ears and brain were pretty fried by the time I got done and FileZilla’ed it up. I noticed the next day that there was a problem, and I’m just now having time to fix it.

    The mix was panned about halfway over to one side, because I hadn’t noticed that the outputs on the tape deck that I was transferring from were out of balance.

    So I centered it tonight. The link now takes you to to the re-mastered version.

    It should give you a much more pleasurable listening experience now, and sound a lot more ‘stereo’. Because of the way panning laws work, I also decided to make it LOUDER.

    I didn’t push it too hard, really, barely hitting the master limiter still, but you’ll probably notice the difference. Brad may be able to hear a few snare transients being squashed a little, but I don’t think I damaged it. I do believe that Patrick’s solo is coming through more clearly.

    It’s always a little hard to tell, because everybody’s listening rig is different.

    In any case, I’m a lot more pleased with the result now.

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