Truck Drivin’ Astronaut

I learned to play guitar so that I could write songs about whatever I fancied.

The first televised moon landing impressed me as it did millions.

Walking On The Moon

This event inspired my first song, Truck Drivin’ Astronaut. It’s written from the viewpoint of an astronaut who drives a truck and drinks beer back on earth.

A few years after I wrote the tune, my friend Jim Vaughn came through town. He was working for a fire retardant company and had a wonderful protective suit. Looked like something an astronaut might wear.

Jim addressing the 2nd grade class at Wakarusa Valley Elementary school.

Jim addressing the 2nd grade class at Wakarusa Valley Elementary school.

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Jim graciously gave me the suit before he left town for his next adventure.

Sometime in the early 1980s, both the suit and the song were covered by Randy Mason for his hit TV show, Bringin’ It All Back Home, on Sunflower Cablevision in Lawrence, Kansas.

Randy Mason and Rusty Laushman on the job with me in the silver suit.

Randy Mason and Rusty Laushman on the job with me in the silver suit.

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photo by Jim Jewel

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photo by Jim Jewel

photo by Jim Jewel

photo by Jim Jewel

The Barking Geckos performed the tune a few times in Lawrence, Kansas between 1975-1982.

Waltzing across the stage.

Waltzing across the stage at a Geckos concert..

I finally recorded the song in my office, about 25 years after I wrote it. Here ’tis:

She Stoops To Conquer

Much of what I create has a Limey sensibility—at least it amuses my English cousins. She Stoops To Conquer is a farcical British play of manners written in the 18th century by Oliver Goldsmith. After attending a performance of the play at London’s National Theater, I was inspired to write a song using the same catchy title. Literature and history are great sources for songwriting.

Disclaimer: I did not attempt to mimic the plot of the play but instead made an attempt at  capturing a feminine archetype. This song has not been previewed by any members of the National Theater Company but they are welcome to do so.

No doubt the song could have used a lute but because there was not a lute in his house, Geoff DeMuth provided mandolin accompaniment. He also engineered. 

Yes Man From Yesco

One of the more annoying personalities on the planet is the yes man.

illustration by Plastic Crimewave

This creature lacks imagination and self-respect. Riddled with the fear of what others might think of his ideas—especially the boss—he cowers behind a torrent of “yes-es.” He doesn’t want to rock the boat. And he definitely doesn’t wish to steer the boat. He just wants to remain in the good graces of the captain.

(A creature who is more annoying—even despicable—is the leader who surrounds him or her self with yes-spouting sycophants.)

In the workplace and the marketplace of ideas, a balance must be achieved between the notion that you are always right and the notion that your opinion is not worthy. Many unworthy opinions reach fruition. And many brilliant ideas remain caged within the minds of the timid.

Play this tune for your boss or co-workers. If you are the boss, share it with the board. Make a Powerpoint. If you’re simply bored, play it for thyself.

The Status Quo Has Got to Go

“If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.”

The Leopard (Sicilian Novel by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa)

Political systems can become rigged to accommodate those already in power. The wealthy become wealthier. Those at the lower end of the scale tend to remain there. Organized society, no matter which economic system, creates opportunity for privilege, cronyism, nepotism and undue process, mechanisms that often seek to keep things as they are—the status quo.

Fairness and justice is not the concern of the status quo. Nor is change. Those at the top wish to maintain or solidify their position. They mock change and may use tactics of fear and obfuscation to make their point.

Social mobility is not a concern of the status quo. Only a continuation of the current order.  The re-imagined past is golden.

“Too much regard for the good old days caused the downfall of Rome,” pronounced Harlow Gaylord, one of my history teachers at Hinsdale High School. This is not an easy concept to grasp at 14 years old but it remained with me until I was able to grasp it.

Those fearful of change or pleased with their status tend to back political candidates  who pledge to maintain it. Or strengthen it. Any attempt at tinkering with the order is scorned as dangerous.

Those not at the top of the system may become disgruntled. They too would like some of the man made rules to bend their way.

Sooner or later, The Status Quo has got to go.

I wrote this song about three years ago. It’s my attempt to be straightforward about this universal, ongoing battle.
UTK performs Status Quo at Fat Tone Guitars in January 0f 2012.

A Night at the Gallery Cabaret with UTK

This is the place….

The Gallery Cabaret at 2020 N. Oakley in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood.

The Gallery Cabaret is a corner bar with live music 7 nights a week. And never a cover charge. It’s the best place to catch UTK, aka Under The Kitchen. Next Show: April 13, 2013.

The meaningful paint job puts you in the mood before you even enter.

Snazzy side view

Stay tuned for our next performance here. You are most welcome.

Beseeching…

In the groove

The interior lighting adds to the atmosphere. We are in a laboratory— a  petri dish of existentialism.

Vassili G captures the garishly dim lighting vibe

The place is anti-pop. You know you’re not in the suburbs anymore when you’re in the GalCab. You’re far from the boondocks, too. The nearest wild animal is a rat.

View from the floor

This would be a likely spot to take a tourist from New Zealand.

For those with hair, it’s a good place to let it down.

UTK fans toast your health

The walls are littered with art done by folks.The bar staff handles the action with a style that ranges from wacky to nonchalant. Kenny is the owner.  In the next photo he’s way at the end of the bar, though looking away from the camera.

Portraits of James Joyce and Edgar Poe hang above the bar

The patrons are music aficionados, hipsters, daily drinkers, musicians, out of work comedians, and assorted misfits who may or may not have a reason to get off their barstool. Everyone is out to have a good time.

UTK has played about 10 gigs at the Gallery Cabaret. It makes for an entertaining night out.

UTK galfans

Sir Plastic Crimewave offers caricatures during recent UTK gig.

Suffering from mildew buildup of the soul? UTK can help.
Rocks harder than other leading bands

Here’s a verite video that will allow you to experience the flagrant relevance of this corner bar. Our cover of Champagne and Reefer

Note the harvest decor gracing the portal.

For more UTK vids: http://www.youtube.com/user/UnderTheKitchen?feature=watch