Steam Powered Studio
October 26, 2010

Earlier this month we had a picture of Joe Kury (or was it Tom Herr?) adding harmonies to You Can't Lie . I worked on a mix of that song last night and I think it's time to let some of that loose.

Summer Thieves You Can't Lie.mp3

Tell your friends.
music catalogue
October 17, 2010

Freekin' Oz. He invites me up to a jam at The Buzz, which you may remember is a converted two-bay garage up along 222. I thought we might have horns and guitar players, but it turned out to be me on keys, with Oz on drums and Sonny on bass. Holy Modesky, Martin and Wood!

Fortunately, I had just been listening to some of that on my way up there, and god only knows what they had been listening to, but if you go in for this kind of thing, I don't think it's half bad for a jam recorded into the stereo mic of an M-Audio Microtrack.

Buzz 0625.mp3

Send in the horn section and guitar!
studio swag
October 10, 2010

silly squirrel

Bad squirrel. I get lots of hits from these "free mp3" sites. They have robots that scour the web for mp3 files and then post links that let you hear and download them. Sounds like a great idea, right? Gets bands more exposure, right? And that's why they posted the free mp3 in the first place, right?

Well, that much is true, but there is one thing this squirrely place doesn't do, and that is to provide a link to the host site. It would be the easiest thing in the world to do- they are posting other information from the song I.D. tag anyway. I've included a link to Steam Powered in every song we post here.

The only reason I can think of for not doing this is that they're afraid that visitors might follow a link away from their site. So why not make the link open in a new tab or window? Please, free mp3 aggregator sites of the world, if you're going to base your business model on other people's work, at least link back to us.
October 6, 2010

house of beer cans poster

The state 'o the art in home-made posters sure has changed, hasn't it? I'm hearing about a lot of these local non-commercially produced shows lately. This one is run by Jeff Lebo

One local showplace that has regular performances is The Wagon Shed. And there are the living-room concert folks like Wood Stove and Robert Bobby. Did I miss anyone?

October 29, 2010

I've been re-mixing the Summer Thieves. Starting with Knock On My Door. Moving through You Can't Lie. Into Lilly. Ending with Desert Girl.

It sounds like a band. We just need a couple more.

About the Studio
October 23, 2010

new lights

New lights in the annex...

October 20, 2010

tiny singer

Wanna get small?

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October 16, 2010


I have been cleaning up around here. We had some water issues last couple weeks and so things have been moved about a bit. I couldn't miss the opportunity to take this group shot of amps that happen to be here right now. Nice selection at the moment.
October 12, 2010

good bee

Unlike the squirrel over there, this bee links back!

It's not so hard if you, like, know how to program an' shit...


These guys at least avoid the headphones. The tree frog place doesn't have a clue about linking back.


The globe is from, which at least displays the address for my site. It's not a clickable link, however. How hard is that to do?

Then there's a couple of Russian sites which don't even have graphics. Needless to say they don't link back.
October 8, 2010

joe in studio

It isn't very well lit on that side of the studio, but this is Joe singing some harmony for You Can't Lie, which is nearing completion. Summer Thieves have been working in here for over a year now, but that's only about a month in dog years or studio time. I think things are going well.

October 3, 2010

Manheim theatre poster

I'm not sure if Savroy Brown actually played here, but I know for sure that Kimberlake once did. The "stage" when we were there consisted of stacks of shipping pallets. Believe me, it was rockin'!

I had made a "light show" for us that consisted of a couple of metal flower boxes with porcelain lamp sockets mounted inside to hold some colored floodlights, and a control box which was another metal flower box with three light switches on it to control the floodlights. This would have been a major cash investment at the time.

Our singer's friend's boyfriend ran the lightshow while we played. We had fun, and I suppose the ten or so people who showed up had fun too. I remember some kid had actually managed to bring in a case of beer. He sat on the floor off to one side- most of the seats in the theatre had been removed, although only about ten feet up front was flat enough for dancing.

Between sets our bass player made out with his girlfriend on the floor of the place. The rest of us were off nipping at the ever present bottle of Comfort. The Manheim Rock Theatre, sometime in the 1970's.

Featured Song
October 24, 2010

Whole Wheat Radio Whole Wheat Radio is off the net. Owner/operator Jim Kloss found that he didn't love his job anymore, and despite his efforts to get the thing going without his having to devote his life to it, he had to shut it down last week.

I first tuned into his station when he and Esther were running things from a 12' by 12' cabin. In Talketna, Alaska. Now, Jim had been a sucessful programmer who sort of escaped all that and moved way up north. I found it fascinating that he was running a net radio station, featuring indie musicians, at a time when every other net radio station was getting shut down by the music industry. He had a unique, quirky site, featuring robot DJs and listeners who gifted each other wheatberrys. CD's poured in from musicians around the world, until (he says) they simply didn't have room in that cabin for any more of them.

Jim always said that his primary goal was to build a community. This he did, but he could not figure out how to take it off. It's a shame. I hope he has inspired others to take up the banner and move it another mile along the road.

The demise of WWR has got me thinking. I was never drawn into that community, partially because I'm not geared that way, and partially because online communities tend to form cliques (just like real world communities) that work at cross purposes. Some of the listener requested programs were wonderful, but too many of them sucked for me to keep coming back to the station. (to hear how one person can create a consistantly interesting online radio program, see Radio Paradise.) The fact is, generating interesting radio programs takes talent. It isn't something that just anybody can do, and it isn't something a machine can do.

That is lesson one, and it applies to this place as well. Just because I personally get a kick out of hearing recordings of music boxes, or ambient sounds, or twisted individuals like Olds doesn't mean that you will. I expect that you might like one out of ten of the things posted here. I think that would be doing well on our part, if you liked one out of ten things we posted.

I think Jim failed to realise one essential thing about his job, and that is something he probably carried with him from his high-pressure work as a programmer. Rather than try to achieve some amazing goal, he should have just done whatever he enjoyed doing. What do I know? I won't be doing anything here at Steam Powered that I don't want to do, for the sake of some higher goal. Yes, I'd like sponsorships to be able to support the recording process, but I have no idea how to force that to happen. If it happens, fine. If not, I'll do what I like.

I wish Jim and Esther were still running their little 12' by 12' joint. I miss that, but then, I've missed that for years.

October 19, 2010

There are stacks and piles of things in the studio after ten years or so, things like cassette tapes and old compact disks, and I came across some recordings I had made with Night Wolf back in '03. We were going for an old blues sort of sound, with a tube mixer and the funky old Altec microphone, but I had a lot of trouble with amplifier buzz during that session and was planning to record him live somewhere. Sadly, we never got the chance.

I've uploaded two songs from his session to The Catalogue. Check 'em out.
October 15, 2010

Tom of Summer Thieves wasn't happy with the structure of Desert Girl and we had talked about making the song shorter. At first I tried doing this on a stereo mix just to see what it would be like, but it was too hard to find the edit points so I did a backup of the song and dove in on the Yamaha.

Desert Girl rough edit.mp3

I cued the edit points off of Oz's overhead tracks. The first surgery involved removing the second verse, and it was pretty clear where the chorus was supposed to be. It only took me a couple of trys to get it.

The second cut could have gone a couple of places. By mistake I didn't get the "out" point at the spot I thought I was getting it, and I picked up two bars of a guitar riff and some 12-string leading up to the chorus. I think it turned out to be a lucky break.

Next I think we work on those vocals and get a better blend of guitars. Tom was right, though- it was too long before.
October 7, 2010

We have a new featured song for you today. I see that like the monkey that backed into the fan, I'm getting a little behind in my work. Which can only mean that it's time for another in the series of bluegrass songs from the late Ronnie Cook.

This one highlights some of Ron's best playing, it's called The Orange Blossom Special. If you look back in the studio archives you can probably find around 20 songs we've released previously from Ron and his friends, and there's more to come.