Other than the city itself, one of the most wonderful things about the year-and-a-half I lived in Venice without a 9-to-5 job was the time I had to explore personal passions. Precious time without a clock roaring in my ears. I’m blessed or cursed, depending on your perspective, with many abnormally compelling interests. One is music. I play a bunch of instruments, and dragged a half-ton of gear with me to Venice including some guitars, a long, heavy digital piano, some amps, mics, and a few book boxes of cables, jacks, clips and God knows what else.
For the first time in a long time, I was really able to improve my chops, digging into old blues and barrelhouse piano bits and Hendrix guitar licks I was never able to crack before.
I also cranked out a few “mash-ups” … sliced-up snips of songs that, when smooshed together, become completely different, unique songs in their own right. It’s a kind of audio collaging that I first learned by watching my chum, the celebrated old-school hip-hop remixer, Steinski.
These days, there are amazing audio programs like Ableton’s Live that let you slice and dice like a nuclear Veg-o-matic. But this was 1998, and I was then driving a shiny Mac Powerbook 3400 at a blistering 240mhz with a long-discontinued program called Soundedit 16. My cell phone – no joke – has a faster processor and runs more complex software.
Anyway, for your downloading pleasure, here’s a mash-up called All In My Toes that I created in the state-of-the-art Electric Giudeccaland studios (seen below) in Venice (my living room). It combines The Doors tune “Maggie M’Gill” with an a cappella song called “Go Down Old Hannah” by American bluesmaster, Leadbelly (Huddie Ledbetter). There's an interesting and highly-compatible collision between The Doors in LA circa 1970 and the then-inmate Leadbelly recorded in 1933 at Angola State Prison in Louisiana. I blow some blues harp on the recording to create a little bridge, but otherwise, it’s the Doors and Huddie, duking it out. (Right click on the link, and "save as" to download to your PC. It's about 3 MB.)
The control room at Electric Giudeccaland
Interesting coda: through a connection at National Public Radio, this recording found its way to The Doors keyboardist, Ray Manzarak, who surprised me with a phone call and some very nice words. Ray baby … I’m ready when you are.