Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's BĂȘte Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Thursday, April 05, 2007


I know the festive atmosphere of
Beach Boys Party! was overdubbed later, but I find almost all of it convincing and contagious. A few times I've gotten it into my head to record that way -- invite a bunch of people together, have a party, and record some music. It's always been a blast. But I haven't done it for years.

In August 1999, I recorded one about a certain Presidential candidate. I invited a bunch of musicians and non-musicians over, taught everybody the song, and recorded it live. More accurately, my friend Jake London recorded it -- and played keyboards and did some vocals.

My beloved spouse named the band Honest John and the Grand Old Partyers. Let's see if I can remember everybody who was there.

Honest John -- lead vocal and electric guitar
Ben London -- acoustic lead guitar, vocal
Jake London -- engineering & live mixing, keyboards, vocal
Dave Balczo -- bass
Dan Tierney -- drums
And a bunch of neighbors singing back-up and clapping hands: Jane Sherman (with a vocal solo), Flo Beaumon, John & Ben & Andrew Green, Aysha Haq, Mark Henley, Maire Donoghue (sp?). I think that's everybody.

A lot of people don't remember it now, but in the immediate aftermath of the 2000 presidential election, a lot of hay was made about the Palm Beach butterfly ballot, which just about everybody agrees resulted in thousands of people mistakenly voting for Patrick Buchanan instead of Al Gore, which they had intended. I think it was Barney Frank who made the remark about "Jews for Buchanan." If it had not been for the butterfly ballot (or a host of other perfectly storming factors), the vote would not have been close enough for George Bush's cronies and minions to steal it for him. Gore would have won solidly.

Before November was out I had convened another band and recorded a song about it. I engineered this one. Here's the lineup for Honest John & the Electoral High School (another band name from my spouse):

Honest John -- lead vocal, guitar, harmonica
Ben Roseth -- alto sax
Mac McClure -- bowed saw
Dave Balczo -- bass
Dan Tierney -- drums
Andrew Green, Glen Felias-Christiansen, David Christiansen, Flo Beaumon, Doug Hobkirk, Alice Quaintance, and Jen Anspach -- background vocals
Dubya overdubs engineered by Scott Balikian (now of Blue Disguise Records)

Here's Cocaine George by Honest John & the Grand Old Partyers.

And here's President by Mistake by Honest John & the Electoral High School.

(Ben Roseth was 16 when he played on "President by Mistake"; he is the son of a colleague of mine and we had jammed together at a party. He went on to win all sorts of national awards as a teen jazz champion, and he's still playing. Really nice guy too.)

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