I have a delightful time talking with a true musical mensch, the ever-inspiring Mr. Mike Watt, on today’s episode of The Watt from Pedro Show. We cover: my Dad’s record collection, my Mom’s guitar, my high school swing-revival band, Little Joe Cook, and Cuddle Magic, among many other topics. And, in between our brief chats, Watt plays some very good music, a bunch of which I made. And, like every episode of this wonderful show, it starts with a track by John Coltrane!
Not a bad three hours of radio, at all!
You can listen here, or find the show wherever you listen to podcasts.
I had a delightfully rambling chat with Cindy Howes for her podcast, Basic Folk. (Listen at the link!)
I seem to remember we talk about music I’ve made (like my album Airplane Mode, and the latest from Cuddle Magic, and great stuff from Ana Egge, Taylor Ashton, Sadie Gustafson-Zook, Zoe Guigueno, and The David Wax Museum), places I’ve played (weddings, comedy clubs …) and some of the deep wisdom I got from Ran Blake.
And other stuff!
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Airplane Mode is the new full-length album by me, Alec Spiegelman.
Since yesterday, Oct 23, it has been available on all of the usual digital platforms.
Things got slightly confusing over at Spotify, inside which a second and distinct Alec Spiegelman was created, for this new album and for some guest appearances. Here’s the new me. I’m told that this will only last for a little while, that the new me and the old me are the same, and that they are in the process of being consolidated.
I wrote the songs for this album pretty quickly in the late summer and into the fall of 2018. “Hurt A Little” and “One Decision” were written with Ana Egge.
Ana is my songwriting hero. I got to spend a bunch of time with her on the road, and through the making of two very good albums. Besides just being the most incredible hang, all that time working with Ana was also a graduate education, my theses: the songs we wrote together. Ana happens to sing my favorite version of “Hurt A Little” on her album, “Is It the Kiss”. I sing an entirely different version with my band, Cuddle Magic, on our album “Bath”. And I think that other people should (and will likely) sing it on other albums, and also at home just for themselves. My sense that anybody should, and could, sing that song, is something of which I’m incredibly proud, and which I do not think I could have done without Ana.
Andrew Dimola & Robin MacMillan play the bass & drums, respectively. And Robin engineered the two day-long sessions (Jan 27, 2019 and Aug 10, 2019), with the three of us tracking together at Robin’s amazing old Williamsburg loft studio.
Robin MacMillan is an incredibly talented musician and producer. He is a masterful engineer of his notoriously difficult-to-mic primary instrument: the drum set. He imagines all kinds of driving parts and pockets. He understands some very subtle connections between musical rhythms and dance, and he’s a fine & un-self-conscious dancer. He makes all sorts of beautiful music in collaboration with all of my favorite musicians in town.
I’ve been playing music with Andrew Dimola pretty steadily since we met around 2003 in Cambridge, MA. At this point, I think we have a remarkable amount of shared and specific musical vocabulary. Thankfully, Andrew still breaks rules I would never break, in pursuit of symmetries I would never have seen. Critically, in the context of this album, he can rock un-ironically and aggressively, as this music demands.
Jacob Blumberg made four music videos for four of the shorter songs on the album. Those are all available to watch on my instagram account.
I always love to play music at the Upper Jay Art Center (way up north of Lake George, overlooking the Ausable river) to an always gracious and appreciative crowd lounging on a strange collection of smartly re-upholstered vintage furniture, hosted by the ever generous impresario, Mr. Scott Renderer. Might be a little while before I travel there next! In the meantime, I have recorded myself at home in Brooklyn, singing a bunch of songs, playing a bunch of instruments. I tried my best to communicate some of the spirit of a performance in the Recovery Lounge at the Upper Jay Art Center. It is up on their youtube channel (link above). I hope you watch it, and if you watch it I hope you like it!
I’m very proud of the music I make with Cuddle Magic.
Benjamin, Christopher, Cole, Dave, Kristin and I all spent two weeks together in December of 2018 recording in a bathroom. All of us amidst 23 microphones, crowded into one bathroom: breathing and listening and making music together.
First single is out now. The rest of the album is on the way.
I could not be more proud of my buddy Taylor Ashton. He made a grand record, all of which we’ll all get to hear at the end of February thanks to the folks at Signature Sounds. I feel lucky because I got to hear it all already, because I produced the thing! So, 2019 has been good!
Cuddle Magic has a show in NYC on Feb. 1, at National Sawdust. This band doesn’t play out too often … and we won’t likely get busy again until our next album is about to drop. But we are playing this gorgeous room in Brooklyn in less than two months. Don’t miss it!
And, I’ve lots more shows coming up, all over the US, with Ana Egge and Iris DeMent. Check out Ana’s website for details.
“Hurt A Little” is the second single from Ana Egge’s forthcoming album, Is It the Kiss. Ana and I wrote this one together, on a day off of tour, staying at a modest houseboat on the edge of Shoreham-by-Sea, on the south shore of England. This gorgeous video is by Lessa Millet.
I’ll be doing a bunch of shows with Ana over the course of the next few months, as well as a week with the mad genius Mr. Stash Wyslouch, and a couple of my own shows.
Aug 3 – Brooklyn, NY – wi/Ana Egge, Taylor Ashton, & Caitlin Pasko @ The Owl Music Parlor
Aug 8 – Brooklyn, NY – AS Solo – House Concert (contact me for the details!)
Aug 15 – Manhattan, NY – AS Solo, opening for Rachel Ries – Rockwood Music Hall
Aug 17 – Brooklyn, NY – AS Solo, The BCAT and CTOWN Variety Show – Union Hall
Aug 23 & 24 – Fayetteville, AR – wi/Ana Egge – Fayetteville Roots Festival
Sep 8 – Manhattan, NY – Ana Egge Album Release – Caveat
Sep 12 – Nashville, TN – wi/Ana Egge – Vinyl Tap
Sep 20 – Philadelphia, PA – wi/Ana Egge – Philadelphia Folk Song Society
Sep 22 – Brooklyn, NY – wi/Ana Egge – Brooklyn Americana Festival
Oct 2 – Boston, MA – wi/Ana Egge opening for Iris Dement – City Winery
Oct 3 – Brownfield, ME – wi/Ana Egge opening for Iris Dement – Stone Mountain Arts Center
Oct 4 – Rockland, ME – wi/Ana Egge opening for Iris Dement – Strand Theatre
Oct 5 – Bethlehem, NH – wi/Ana Egge opening for Iris Dement – Colonial Theatre
These days (as of this writing on Feb 9, 2019) I am busy with good work. And so I rarely get around to updating this website. Truth is the slow loading time for the admin page for the very old version of wordpress that I run is also an impediment. And then there’s all the potentially historic news on top of which to keep. I just don’t have much time.
So here’s a pretty broad & long view update, to keep the page current-enough for a while:
I am in the middle of producing three wonderful records for three wonderful and inspiring songwriters – Ana Egge, Zoe Guigueno, and Taylor Ashton. Can’t wait for you to hear them all!
I and the rest of Cuddle Magic spent three weeks in December in a slightly-larger-than-normal bathroom in a nice house on the Eastern tip of Long Island. There we recorded, all playing together very quietly, many performances of all the songs that will comprise our next record. There will be lots of time-taking and take-picking before we even send it off to be mixed. Still, I bet everyone gets to hear it before the end of 2019. I’m very excited about the album that is somewhere among all the things we recorded. It’s been a while since we made one — long enough for everyone of us (and the music and the lyrics) to have noticeably matured.