Ghost Riders and Vampires

Well, hi, gang! Long time no see.

I got in a new suite of audio repair software tools a week or so ago and found myself rummaging around in my collection of old Los Blues Guys tapes, looking for something to throw on the slab and eviscerate with them.

The specimen we have here, after a fair bit of tweaking and EQ’ing and other more exotic processing that you don’t care about, is a performance from AggieCon XXII on the evening of March 22, 1991.

As far as I can tell, it’s the usual line-up — Unca Brad on drums, Unca Stevie on keyboards, Casey on bass and back-up vocals, me on lead guitar, and Unca Scott on rhythm guitar and lead vocals. Frankly, Brad and Scott are what make this performance so awesome. IMHO. As was so often the case. I’d kill to have Scott’s rhythm chops, and long ago gave up the idea of ever trying to learn to play drums, faced with the mountain that is Brad.

And we had a surprise rock-star guest in Warren Norwood, who sang his original set of lyrics at the end.

Without further ado, I give you:


Ghost Riders in the Sky / Vampires in the Sun


(Incidentally, either I or WordPress have completely lost the ability to format mixed text and pics properly. My apologies for this post looking so amateurish here. Working on it…)

Nothing Else Better To Do


Okay, it’s been completely dead in here for far too long.

I’ve been a near-total hermit since sometime late last year. I blame Obama. But I’m hereby officially re-committing to posting some postings at least once a week. I already have a couple in my head. They may not all be the casual masterpieces that you’ve grown accustomed to seeing from me. But they’ll be something.

I’m kicking off with a new song that I’ve largely finished mixing this morning.

It’s probably the most highly-produced song I’ve done yet, with all sorts of layers and panning and automation envelopes and synths and on and on about stuff you don’t care about.

And, Ghod help me, I smashed it all to hell with compressors and limiters. It just seemed like the kind of tune that called for that. Another sad victim of the Loudness Wars. I left a few transients in there somewhere. Maybe.

I like to think that this one is in the finest tradition of EatOurBrains.

I hope that it’s an easy listen for you.

…Uh… You should play it loud….


Nothing Else Better to Do


EDIT on 10-04-09: I’ve just loaded a slight remix of the song, for increased clarity. I brought the vocals forward so that they’re more intelligible, increased the strings’ level for ear candy, and got rid of some mud in the bottom end. I don’t know about you guys, but I usually don’t enjoy having mud in my bottom end.

Hugs to all of you


The Wedding of the Century

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you — Mr. Jesse Hawkins and Mrs. Rachael Hawkins.




They were married last Saturday afternoon in an outdoor amphitheatre at Brownwood State Park, to my delight and to the applause of approximately 45 friends and family.


This is the terrible loss that I suffered, mentioned in my previous post. I gave up my most beloved daughter – but gained both a wonderful son-in-law and a vast herd of cattle in payment.


More below the cut.


: Continue reading

THB For The Masses

Two Headed Baby played a special gig last weekend.


It was a good weekend for me, in many, many ways. I’m planning to post in more detail on that later today or perhaps tomorrow.


I set up a laptop to record the gig as best I could through a single mic off to the side, and seem to have caught about two-thirds of it on disk. I’ve just finished processing a couple of the songs, and thought you might enjoy listening to THB in full fury.


Rachael was there, and told me that we sounded awesome, but she was being especially kind to her Papa last weekend, because I was suffering a great loss. The audience danced their asses off, and didn’t throw anything sharp or too hard at us. I figure that we probably didn’t suck, much.


Rockin’ In The Free World


Blues Medley



As you may know, our old drummer got bored with just hitting things and wandered off to try to learn how to be another goddam dime-a-dozen guitar player. Bob Yeager, who still enjoys smashing the hell out of everything, has gracefully taken his place.


Caroline Spector on bass, cello, and vocals, Warren Spector on rhythm and lead guitar, Gilda Ginsel on vocals and keyboard, my nice friend Bradley Denton on vocals, harp, and rhythm and lead guitar. I was up there, too, mostly played rhythm guitar.


However, we made the mistake of allowing both GreyLion and Bulky Jones to sit in. And they wanked endlessly. Please forgive them.


I’ve whined repeatedly about the Loudness Wars, but – I smashed the hell out these recordings, just because it seemed the rock ‘n roll thing to do. Another mea culpa for that. I tried to leave a few dynamics in place.


This stuff is meant to be played loud, though, so you should turn the volume knob all the way to the right. I hope your neighbors don’t find it too painful to listen to.



Pics credit to Cheryl Collum, who, incidentally, happens to be my baby sister.

Emma Bull and Los Blues Guys – Soulful Dress

Emma Bull’s personality, singing, and high-energy stage presence always blew me away. She’s also, um, well, a bit of a hottie. Which never hurts when you’re a rock chick. I haven’t seen her for way too many years, but some things don’t change, and I’m absolutely certain that Emma is still the magical creature I knew.

She’s also the author of, among other works, ‘War for the Oaks’, which is considered a classic seminal urban fantasy.

She was in the most excellent Minneapolis band Cats Laughing.

On October 11, 1991, along with other celebrity guests, she took the stage with Los Blues Guys. She’s all over the tape I have of the event, but here’s her taking lead vocals and rockin’ hard.


Soulful Dress


Bradley Denton on drums, I think, though I know that Steven Brust sat in with us on at least one occasion. I’m not sure whether it was Patrick Nielsen Hayden, or Tom Maddox, or somebody else, who played guitar on this song, and would appreciate help with that. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t me, though. Whoever it was, they did good. Real good.

If you’d like some more Emma in your life, you can find more of her writing and music by reading and following the links offered on her web site and in her Wikipedia entry.


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.

At The Lesbian Bar

Me and She Who Is Awesome have some startlingly free-form conversations on occasion.

I don’t remember how we arrived there, but she suggested the first four lines of this song.

It got stuck in my head, and I had to write the rest.

It’s all pretty much one take, just vocal and guitar. I might revisit it at some point, but I’m pretty pleased with how it came out tonight.

And no pitch-tuning. Go me!


At The Lesbian Bar


Uh, I really doubt that this one is safe for work…


Fast Zombie Blues

A few months ago, She Who Is Awesome forced me to watch ‘Walk the Line’ one night in exchange for being allowed to crash at her place.

I liked it a lot. And it got me to thinking….

If you’re my True Friend, you’ll click on the pic and view Johnny and Kris tearing it up in an excellent live performance of ‘Folsom Prison Blues’. If you don’t do this first, you may not realize just how relentlessly, mind-bogglingly, self-aggrandizingly clever are the lyrics that I’ve written.


Then: Fast Zombie Blues


EDIT: I’ve gotten some really good critique from the maniacs at KVR and done a remix of this song. Mostly just some balancing of track levels, changing some reverb, EQ’ing a bit, and a few other tweaks. Not a done deal yet; I think I still need to sort out the bass line more. But I think this mix sounds a lot more polished and am quite pleased with it.

Fast Zombie Blues Remix


I played it live at the recent Samhain gathering outside Dripping Springs, and John realized, as I hadn’t, that this is actually a teaching song. This is the sort of wisdom that needs to be passed on by the tribal elders around the campfire, so that the young ones who’ve never experienced an infestation will have a framework that gives them a better chance of survival.


I’ve spent the entire weekend recording and mixing my magnum opus, and my ears and brain are fried. I have no perspective on it any more. I’ve tried it on two speaker systems and through headphones, but mixes sometimes translate poorly. And I think it’s a little slow. I may revisit it and speed it up some.

I welcome comments on the mix and other relevant items.


EDIT: Okay, so I’m a little obsessive. I bumped the speed on the song from 95 bpm to 105 bpm, and replaced the original in my link above with the new Fast Zombie version. Fortunately, Reaper, which is my recording software and is the best goddam software in the galaxy, uses Elastique Pro, the very best pitch and time-stretching algorithm on the market. I can’t hear any artifacts in the new version.

It’s a real toe-tapper now.


Scott’s a Lumberjack


We now present another LBG masterpiece, this one rescued from the tapes of the same night as the infamous ‘Steamroller Blues’.

Scott McCullar on vocals. He is the Kwisatz Lumberjack.

Our Dark Lord Stevie Chuckles on harmonica, me and maybe Patrick Nielsen Hayden on guitars, Casey Hamilton on bass, Martha Wells and probably Kim Rector and Cathy Ruedinger on back-up vocals.

You know the drill. Click the pic.


And there’s a late addendum as a result of Rachael seeing me working on this post, and awesomely pointing me to Brawny Academy and the Woodsy Wisdom video series. They’ll change your life.


As noted in my previous post, today is Earth Day. Today we cherish the mother who bore us, and make plans to keep her alive and healthy.

More than a decade ago, I first saw the pictures of the disappearing glacier on Mt. Kilimanjaro. Humanity shrugged. Eight-two percent of the cap has vanished since 1912, accelerating rapidly as we speak.


Kilimanjaro is predicted to be ice-free by 2020.

I’m trying to avoid spewing vitriol here, but I get told by religious evangelists that I just need to open my eyes to see God all around me. My eyes are open. What I see is a species that is destroying their Garden.

I think that it’s depressingly probable that, as a species with too much power and too little care, we’re too stupid and selfish to survive.

I don’t know an answer. I wish I had more to offer than another Jeremiad. I’d rather be proposing something positive and clever and upbeat in this post.

But all I have tonight is this:

It’s coming at us fast, people. We need to change ourselves and the way we do our business, and we need to find some most excellent technical fixes before the mass extinctions kick in.


Science fiction has a rich tradition of telling stories with the theme ‘If This Goes On….’

I wrote and recorded ‘Kilimanjaro’ this weekend. It’s not final draft, but I learned more about how to use my tools. I’m rather pleased in that the whole thing is handmade. Not a loop or any automation in it anywhere.

There has been some vocal tuning, of course, and will be much more when I get back to editing some more. You have no idea how yowling-awful it sounded originally.

It kills me that I can’t sing the song that is in my heart.

Fortunately, I have some friends who sing — you know who you are — and I’ll eventually bully them all into singing what I cannot.

Mr. Watts and His Band(s)

Charlie Watts and his Fabulous Rolling Stones

My favorite rock’n’roll star is Charlie Watts, who has been the drummer for the Rolling Stones since 1963.

In Europe, the crowds go berserk every time Charlie is introduced. But when Barb and I saw the Stones in Houston in ‘03, the people around us looked at me as though I’d farted in church when I stood up and bellowed for Mr. Watts.

Drummers get no respect here in the States. (I blame Tommy Lee.)

It’s a different story with Charlie’s bandmates. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards have both said that if Charlie quits the Stones, the band is finished.

Of course, Keith has also said that the only way anybody (after Bill Wyman) is getting out of the Stones is in a box.

That actually could have happened for Charlie in 2004, when he was diagnosed with throat cancer. But he fought it, beat it, and then embarked on the Bigger Bang Tour with the rest of the band.

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Podible Paradise: Episode Zero

Okay, I’ve got another podcast going. I’ll be doing this one fairly regularly, at least until the application deadline for Viable Paradise, June 15th. It’s purpose is to give people an idea of what the workshop experience is. I’ll be talking to current instructors and previous instructors (Maureen, I’m comin’ fer ya!) and previous students.

(For those who don’t know, Viable Paradise is a residential, week-long SF and Fantasy Writing workshop held on Martha’s Vineyard every fall. Lots of details at Podible Paradise or at Viable Paradise.)

During the first episode I talk with Mur Lafferty, writer and podcaster, a student at the most recent VP. You can visit the site here or subsribe.

Attack of the … Podcast

Episode Zero

Eat Our Brains:  The Podcast

Rory and Steve discuss stuff better left undiscussed. Wide ranging discussion of bad movies starting with the material in Rory’s post, Attack of the Whatever, and ending in the mountains of Houston. Very silly.

This is mostly a test to see how the technology works but I think it’s pretty entertaining. I want to do more with all the contributors here at EOB.

I don’t promise any soon but if you want to subscribe here’s the link.

EoB at iTunes Store

Subscribe using iTunes

Direct Feed

Creative Commons License

The Eat Our Brains Podcast from Eat Our Brains is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License.

Music from Jonathan Coulton‘s “Re Your Brains” used in the intro and extro portion of our program and is also licenced (by him) under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License.

Elvis Is Alive — And LBG has the photos


You thought we were done with Elvis tonight, din’cha?

Uh. Well. So did I. But old technology betrayed me this weekend. I’ve been planning on a ‘Petrogypsies’ post for some time, with a bonus chapter for the hungry population. However, it’s looking like I have that chapter only on paper. And on 5-1/4 floppy. I’m going to buy an old floppy drive if that’s what it takes. Maybe by next week.

So, what do I do when I’m desperate for a topic?

Yep. Pull out the trusty Los Blues Guys tapes and spend a few pleasant hours re-mastering them. This one was easy to clean up, only some persistent tape hiss to reduce. It may be be best natural recording we have of any of our songs. But I compressed the hell out of it anyhow, since we like our music loud these days.

According to the label, it’s from a band practice, probably at Brad’s place, on 07/22/90. Scott on lead vocals, with Casey on backup vocals and bass, Brad on drums, me on the Tokai Strat. There may have been other participants, but I can’t hear them on the tape.

This song is a legend. Written by Scott McCullar, it’s a burst of sustained creative brilliance, and was always a crowd-pleaser. Of course, we were always playing for a bunch of science fiction geeks.

It was one of my favorite songs to play, though I frequently screwed it up, of course.

Guitar wankery warning, as if you needed it. I don’t think I ever played this song as well elsewhere. Or as prolifically.