I’ll be up in Cambridge this coming week. On Thursday evening, at around 6pm, music (and other assorted street festivities?) will be in Inman. As a part of that, I’m singing some songs in the S&S parking lot, and also playing some clarinet with Gill Aharon’s incredible and unique instrumental group. Andrew Dimola (who plays all the bass parts on my recent record, Airplane Mode), will join me. Really enthused to perform a bunch of newer songs of mine that have been going, for a while now, unsung. Glad to be doing it outside, and for free, for anyone who’d care to listen.
GAT plays at 6:20. My set with Andrew is at 7:30pm.
That reminds me of this video of this song, which I uploaded to youtube in at the very end of Jan 2019. That’s Andrew, off camera, singing and bass-ing.
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I will sing songs from my recent album Airplane Mode, and newer songs. And, we’ll be getting together in advance to work out some collaborations.
What a year-and-a-half it’s been, and what a surprising world in which to mark a numerologically significant birthday. I am 40 now! The pandemic seems to have neatly divided my life: I’m hoping I have at least roughly as many decades to come, and I’m happy to face them with a little more wisdom, won via all the hours of Covid-enforced self-examination.
Also of great comfort this year, the six of us in Cuddle Magic have been writing an album’s worth of songs together. We’ll record them this coming fall, in the same small bathroom where we recorded Bath, our pandemic-Spring offering, once again breathing and listening to the shared air in that tiny space!
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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