Steam Powered Studio
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About the Studio
June 28, 2011

Here's some of that sausage-making now. It's Stewball again, only this time sung an octave higher.

A few other things added in here as well, but it's the same basic tracks.


June 26, 2011

I am working myself up to a rant this morning. Having listened closely, and carefully considered which songs from the Steam Powered Catalogue belong on a sort of best of compilation, I'm left with the reminder that most of the songs here are not among the best of.*

If I were playing by the normal rules of marketing (the customer is always [allowed to believe that he is] right), I would disguise this uncomfortable truth. But this is Steam Powered, and you get to see how the sausage is made here.

* this refers to the sentiment expressed by Garrison Keillor when he says that in Lake Wobegon all the children are above average.

June 25, 2011

Compilations suck, right? Have you ever heard a "best of" record company album that didn't? Sadly, the temptation is very great to do this.

I had a family reunion today, and I wanted to put something together to show what I do here. And I like it, but I can't think of one good example of where this ever worked for anyone else. So I assume that my compilation sucks too. Here it is:

Craig Wise- Still Making Sunshine
The Stray Birds- Horses
Joe Ellis- Shough It Off
Jeff Coleman- Save To Serve Her
Woggi Noggi- Dishes
The Oldtime Liberation Front- Feeder Mice Jig
Jen and Charlie- Headed West
Jeff Coleman- What Was The Point
Dr Mo- True Religion
Kenny Gross- The Taking
Gil Smart- Ordinary Girl
Blind Joe Death- Til My Arms Fall Off
Willie Marble- Homework
Gadjo Playboys- Anouman
Robert Bobby- It's Not The Heat
Stray Birds- Sparrows
Jeff Coleman- A Blues
Gadjo Playboys featuring Trixi- Moonglow
Robert Bobby- They Couldn't Say It If It Wasn't True
Woggi Noggi- Laundry
Summer Thieves- Lilly
Dr Mo- Junko Partner
Olds Sleeper- Another Night is Gone

Every one is a good song- together? Don't know.
(some of these you haven't heard yet...)

June 21, 2011

Remember Ronnie Cook? Here's another in the series of releases from his tapes- this one is just a little in between song discussion about what key a song might be played in. I'm fairly certain it's Ronnie saying I can't pick up no "C" in no "D", which helps identify the occasional comments he makes at other times. Guitar plays alone for a bit, sounds like a big body Martin? Which would be about right for 70's bluegrass I think...

Some great woman's laughter on here too- and some folks seem to be listening from another room as well. I imagine a hot summer night, with the flourescent ceiling light making the kitchen a little too bright, cigarette smoke, a jar of stumphole on a metal-top table...


June 19, 2011

I'm sure you've all been wondering just what a ChromaHarp sounds like! Tonight, you can find out.

I've always loved the song Stewball, probably because when I heard it as a kid I had no clue that a) people gamble on horse races and that b) they give race horses ridiculous names. Of course, now I'm down with all the social-political overtones involved in this song. Or maybe I just like the goofiness of a magical horse named Stewball.


June 15, 2011

I've been working on mixing/mastering the Woggi Noggi stuff. It's going to be amazing.

flashlight lessons

Shawn (the suspect with the flashlight) has written some brilliant songs- supposedly for children. I'm sure children will be able to relate to them easily, but I think more in the sense in which I remember my favorite songs from childhood.

Those songs had playful elements and surprises in them that I loved. They weren't "nice" and they weren't "uplifting". They were fun, and if nothing else, Shawn and Ruthie and Bruce and Dave and I have packed a lot of fun into this project.

We're shootin' for the end of the month...

June 14, 2011

the power of advertising

I like looking at old magazines- especially old advertisements. The ads reflect society much more directly than any dusty old history book.

In 1933 there were a lot of ads for annuities- back in the dark ages before social security, if you wanted a "guaranteed income for life!" you had to buy it yourself. Of course, the bloodsuckers back in those days had some good actuarial tables, and odds were you'd never live long enough to collect what you'd paid in.

My favorite ads are for- advertising! Ad Council ads from the '60's are great, but this litttle beauty from '33 really flips my switch. Not only is advertising the best way for you to learn about the features of the product you want to buy, manufacturers wouldn't advertise it until and unless it was as well-crafted as it could be. So when you see an advertisment for a product, you know it's a good product.

In the history of advertising, I guess this was where they start going all meta on us. They could only have spent the time and money to create such an ad if people had developed some sort of resistance to the advertising of the time- and judging from the tone, I'd say that people weren't buying it.

No, there isn't even a tag line at the bottom. This was back when you didn't need to say who was paying for the ads- or even disclose that you were working for a company when you wrote "features" for magazines like Popular Science. We've come a long way, baby!

June 11, 2011

Guitars are notoriously difficult to photograph. Their proportions don't fit the format.


This is a Gibson Corvus waiting to be operated on. Here's a closer look at the interesting part...

corvus body

Fortunately, the canary has darkened over time to a nice ripe banana (without spots). But if you think this is really an odd shape, have a look at what John Evans was playing with The Box Tops

box tops guitar

Don't have a clue what this is. This is from a video of them playing The Letter on TV. All the gear is VOX, so I imagine this is one of theirs, but I haven't found anything else out about it.
It's a 12- sttring electric, with multiple pickups that look like something Vox would use. Or maybe Mosrite?

box tops guitar

Yes. you are seeing it right- that's a big old leg sticking up with a sort of ball on the end, and the body is a sort of moon sliced off even with the side of the neck. It resembles... nothing. So we'll call this a "Mystery Guitar" contest. Identify the manufacturer and model and win a big prize!

June 09, 2011

I have had an email account ( for this place since the turn of the century. That's like 100 web years! But the time has come for me to part company with the yahoos at Yahoo. The last straw is the "chat" spam that appears onscreen no matter what settings you choose. Unless you pay for a "premium" mail account.

Now, the moving flash ads that take seconds to load I can tolerate, because I know that's the price I pay for "free" email. But they just flat out broke the thing in an attempt to to drive me to the premium level. Sorry guys- I pay for services that work well, not ones that are arbitrarily broken.

I'm switching over to the dark side- Google. From now on you can reach me at

(here's the oldest e-mail in my old account, from Wednesday, May 10, 2000)

Hello Liv Pooleside
Thank you for signing up at OnlineRock, the best place on the Web for promoting, distributing, and selling your music. To start building your Web site just log in at with the following information:
Once your site is built, you can sell downloads of your music directly from your site. To find out how, go to
OnlineRock also offers free Web-based email. To sign-up for your own account go to
You may post free classifieds at the OnlineRock Sounding Board. Whether your looking for a band member, selling an old guitar or want to announce you Web site or upcoming gigs go to
If you have any comments or questions, send them to


I have been looking for one of these for at least a year now- today I scored!
The ChromaHarp is a big hit with the Summer Thieves... maybe it will appear on one of their new songs? I think more of Woggi Noggi things when I play it, but really, I got it for Craig Wise.

June 08, 2011

All new links on the video page- Google has discontinued hosting them, so they've all moved to YouTube. Transferring them was totally painless- it's amazing how easy this can be when somebody cares.

J Mundok was here last night and turned me on to My Rural Radio, and we had a conversation about how, despite the amazing advances in communication made possible by the net, we still often get our information via word of mouth. It helps to be sitting at a computer when you're doing it though...

June 05, 2011

We had a 12 hour session yesterday, and spent some hours this morning herding song files around. The idea came up of placing the songs as if we were passing through one day, so much agonizing over song order was eliminated.

The music portion of the Woggi Noggi project looks like this:

Woggi Noggi Theme
It's A Beautiful Day
Name Game
Wurdy Burd
Hardware Store
Bock Bock
Shake It Up
Get Wet
Yeah Yeah
Me and You
End Theme

We had chicken for lunch.

June 04, 2011

Tired of the old look. I'll be keeping the same general format, just going with some pictures of the place instead of my weezie graphics.

I'm fairly certain I can come up with enough text to fill in the gaps.

Today will be a wrap-up session for Shawn Drain's Woggi Noggi project- for the moment. She is learning to make videos on a Mac, and I'll be linking to them as they come along.

Sponsors are getting the benefit of full access to the Jen and Charlie recordings, five wonderful songs by Jen Starcinic and Charlie Muench, recorded here earlier this year. You can download the featured song and hear samples of the others on the catalogue page.

Steam Powered alumni the Stray Birds were scheduled to be performing at McCleary's during the Bluegrass Crawl today, but I don't see them listed now- call the bar for details. Still worth a visit, lots of great music happening out there. Maybe Ruby and I will get done here early!

featured song
Featured Song


rants 'n repairs