This is a collection of home recordings made during the late summer days of 2011 in Kalamazoo and South Haven, Michigan. We released the record on September 16, 2011, to honor Andrew D. Wolf, who died in a bicycle accident on September 16, 2010. PRESENTE! For you and with you always.
Credits & Acknowledgements
Elisabeth Pixley-Fink (piano, guitar, singing)
Andru Bemis (banjo, fiddle, guitar, singing)
Samantha Cooper (fiddle)
Recorded and mixed by Elisabeth and Andru. Album art, design, and lettering by Elisabeth and Andru. Many thanks to Pat Carroll, Ira Cohen, Sam Cooper, Jeffrey Dick, Matt Wood, and especially You!
So many thanks to: the whole lot o’ ye thieves and tramps who hitched, hopped, walked, drove and rode to be on this album …. Rachel, Rich, Mike, Jeremy K., Liam, Todd, Phil, Derek, Rick, Ellie-May, Mallory, Dylan, Sheaf, Karl, Dad, Jeremy B., and Nathan; Ian Gorman for putting up with the long, late nights in my tiny house while I stumbled, hollered, mumbled and yawned my way through these recordings; Jack Radcliffe and Wepecket Island Records for the encouragement and incentive to record a bunch of other folks’ songs; Jeffrey Dick and the First Congregational Church of South Haven; the staff and board of the Liberty Hyde Bailey Birthplace Museum in South Haven; Jeremy & Sam Keen; TG Music in Goshen; Mike Brown; JC Hartsfield for the Tascam 388; Aaron Cobbs for not kickin’ me outta the house; Sarah Schneider for the banjolele; Ahsan Haq for keeping me fed; Mom, Dad, Rachel, Nathan, Sharon, and Jeremy; everyone at Ground Vinyl Records; and of course, all the venues, fans, promoters, musicians and friends who have been so extraordinarily kind to me in my travels- y’all know very well who you are.
This album is dedicated to Jack Ferguson, who chased a train halfway across Michigan on Valentines Day, 2004, with a box full of “Singer.” I don’t forget these things….
Karl Andrews (tuba)
Don Bemis (clarinet)
Jeremy Bemis (trombone)
Nathan Bemis (trumpet)
Todd Burdick (banjo)
Rich Burnett (vocals)
Liam Warfield (pump organ)
Jeremy Keen (banjo, percussion, vocals)
Derek Kratzer (upright bass)
Phil Leonard (piano)
Mike Reeb (drums, percussion, vocals)
Rachel Ries (vocals)
Rick Swanson (12-string guitar)
the Tramps: Ellie-May, Mallory, Dylan, Sheaf (vocals, percussion)
Produced by Andru Bemis. Recorded July–September, 2005, by Ian Gorman & Andru Bemis. Andru’s vocals, guitar, banjo & banjolele recorded by Ian at Andru’s home (South Haven, MI). All others recorded by Andru at the following locations: Andru Bemis’ home, South Haven, MI (horns, vocals, guitar, percussion); First Congregational Church, South Haven, MI (piano); Jeremy & Sam Keen’s home, Lombard, IL (vocals, banjo drums, percussion); Liberty Hyde Bailey Birthplace Museum, South Haven, MI (pump organ, banjo); TG Music, Goshen, IN (upright bass). Mixed September-October, 2005, by Bemis at home. All photographs by Mike Brown.
It’s 5:30 on a Tuesday morning, and it’s just about bedtime. In fact, it’s almost exactly two years to the day I mailed the last album, …Plays Past His Bedtime, to the duplicator – perhaps I shoulda named this one “…Plays Well Beyond Past His Bedtime or Bedtime? What Bedtime?”
Even before recording PPHB, I intended to create an album called Singer. In fact, Val shot these wonderful photographs of my sewing machine (20 bucks from the West Chicago St. Vincent De Paul) a month or two before that fateful day when I realized folks would actually pay 10 bucks for a simple 18-song demo recorded over the course of one late night. Of course, I couldn’t help but occasionally wonder over the last three and a half months what form of insanity has recently overtaken me: PPHB / Singer = 1 night @ $10 per CD / 3 1/2 months @ $15 per CD
I’ve always considered myself to be a somewhat intelligent boy, and though I’ve never cared much for mathematics I think I’ve managed to figure out some of its basic concepts. When I apply these concepts to the former equation, I come up with a couple derivatives over an algorithm (with a remainder of 14.2%). And so – encouraged by the power of mathematics – I press on.
I suppose only time will tell whether the numbers have lied to me, but until then I’m awful happy to be awful happy ’bout this new album, three years in the planning and three months in the making. Some of the songs are old, others are new. I’ve borrowed a couple tunes from hither and a few more lyrics from yon (isn’t that what good music’s about anyhow?) and I’m not too good at the blues … I don’t remember the rest of the rhyme, but it prob’ly doesn’t apply anyhow.
Here – named in honor of my favorite electric singer – is the new, old acoustic album I’ve been promising for so long. It ain’t perfect, but I certainly hope it’ll keep you pleasantly occupied for another year or two whilst I catch up on some much-needed sleep.
Produced by Andru Bemis & Mike Reeb for Ground Vinyl Records. Recorded in analogue September–December 2003 by Bemis at the following locations:
Andru Bemis’ house (South Haven, MI) – sewing machine, guitar & vocals
Don & Lois Bemis’ living room (South Haven, MI) – guitar & vocals
Nathan Bemis’ attic & dining room (South Haven, MI) – pump organ & bass
Kevin Casey’s living room (Wheaton, IL) – guitar & mandolin
First Congregational Church (South Haven, MI) – piano, guitar & vocals
Daniel Gnidovic’s living room (Wheaton, IL) – mandolin & vocals
Wilson Ramsay’s living room (Elmhurst, IL) – harmonica
Jeff Reeb’s basement (Highland, IN) – drums & banjo
Polly Reeb’s living room (Lansing, IL) – drums
Residence Inn by Marriott, Rm #219 (Holland, MI) – guitar & mandolin
Mixed & mastered December 2003–January 2004 by Bemis at home. All songs, lyrics & music by Andru Bemis, except #6 (Hard, Ain’t it Hard) by Woody Guthrie, new verses by Bemis; and #12 (Do Lord) traditional, additional verses by Bemis. Layout & design by Bemis. Singer photographs by Valerie Broucek.
Thank you: Mike, Jeff, Kevin, Wilson, Troy, Daniel, Susan and all the rest of the Thieves. Special thanks to the Casey, Reeb, Ramsay, Gnidovic, and Bemis families for the use (and abuse) of their homes; Jessica Fiederowicz; Val Broucek; Sara Streit; Rachel Bemis; the Villanueva family; Jeremy Keen; Gerrit & Rebecca Haagsma; everyone at Kibbie CRC and Lombard Mennonite; and Jeffrey Dick and the First Congregational Church of South Haven. Mom and Dad, ye’re up there somewhere, but I’ll thank you again…
Thanks also (in no particular order): Suzanne and the Kufahl family; Donna, Mike & Adam; Paul, Dominic, the Larson family, et al.; FitzGeralds’ Tuesday night folks; The Verse, Garrett Soucy, Richard Burnett and the rest of the Ground Vinyl crew; Chris & Kristina (your encouragement is the reason I finally recorded this album); Amanda Mannix; Jason, Laura & Archer; Dave & Angela; Lori, Barb, the Glassers, Lisa & Rhett; Dennis, Maggie & Jack; Lou & Pete; Becka (this is yer late Christmas present); Wendy & Andy; Sarah, Eddie, Vikke, Kristin, Denise and the entire South Haven gang (y’all know who you are…); the Halinskis and everyone at the Farmers’ Market; Chris Lehman and family; Honore and the Black Cat folks; Roger, Brian, Ariel and the Door County contingent; Jason Webley; Leia; R.D. Roth; Ric Salazar; Paul & Lisa and 5 Sunset; embilena, whoever you are; Robbie, Lindsey & Annabeth; Mark, Courtney & Lady; Renee; Chris Pesel (for the guitar lessons so long ago); the Appleyard, DeVinney, & Ludwig families; Stephen Sequeira (I can’t thank you enough, for so many reasons); Patrice; George ‘n all at Baars’. No thanks to Sallie Mae…
New Year’s Eve, 2001, West Chicago, IL. Twenty hundred hours. Bemis’ motorbike wouldn’t start. He pushed it up the hill. He rode it down the hill. It burped a couple times. Back up the hill. Then down the hill. Burp. Then up. Then down. Burp. Up. Down. Burp… That’s how Bemis ended up recording these songs from 10:00 pm, December 31st, 2001 through about 6:00 am on January 1st, 2002. You could say it took him two years. You would be wrong, though. All it really took him was a shot of Glenlivet, two microphones, one pipe of tobacco, eight hours, a class of champagne, a guitar, another pipe of tobacco, and a couple cups of coffee. Turned out a couple days later Bemis just hadn’t opened the choke all the way on the motorbike.
Credits & Acknowledgements
Andru Bemis (guitar & voice)
Recorded, mixed, and mastered by Bemis. All songs written by Bemis except #3 (Home To Me), Tom Paxton; #6 (Sweet Dreams Sweetheart), Fred Howard & Nat Vincent; #9 (Jenny Kiss’d Me), lyrics by Leigh Hunt; #10 (Hard Times Come Again No More), Stephen C. Foster. Apologies to Spike Jones for pieces of #13, to Woody for the end of #16, and to Sunday school teachers across America for #17. Thanks to Chuckles for the lyrical help on #18, and to Steve-O for the EV-950 micromathingie. Proudly recorded in stereo ultra-lo fidelity by Bemis. No equalization, reverberation or beautification has been applied to this recording, other than some necessary compression in the mastering process.