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Both Sides of the Coin of Gold

Ted is my oldest friend. While that is a distinction, perhaps not that interesting, or even dubious on its face, the fact that we can still have an interesting creative dialogue and collaboration decades into our meeting, is distinctive for me at least.

We just released a record that was mostly spawned down here in Miami. Ted came down last year and we holed up at the Gold Dust Motel for a few days and wrote these songs. He came back a couple of months later and we sprint recorded most of the record with Brian Lange and Rick Moon at Faze One Studios nestled within the wonderful venue/recording studio/ community space The Bridge off of 95 in the heart of Miami. We had a core wrecking crew that consisted of Moon and Lange, as well as Dr. Brian Potts, Eric Escanes, April Nicole, Ana Paz, Cesar Paniagua, Cesar Rodriguez, Jack Le Sante, Tim La Roque, Jason Mavilla, and I hope I’m not forgetting anyone. The rest has been recorded in lots of weird ways in lots of different times and spaces since then.

Ted and I grew up in the same small town in Northeastern Pennsylvania, which, on one side, is a pastoral idyllic, quite rural place. At the time, it could also be a somewhat stifling environment in its homogeneity and general discomfort it naturally exuded towards anyone flying a freak flag no matter how small or innocuous seeming. Since then, I think it’s changed quite a bit, but that was the backdrop of our youth as I remember it.

As we respectively flew the coop and had different but somewhat similar transient creative lives, it seemed that whenever we reconnected, there was much to talk about and share. Late in 2021, we began talking about making a rhythm based record that could honor much of the music we found inspiring from Latin America at large. Through his career recording audio and sound, Ted had traveled extensively in Latin America. From my 12 years in Miami, and a lifetime of absorbing the tempos of my Cuban and Venezuelan family, it seemed like it could be a beautiful way to make something new to us and honoring the diversity of  music we loved through the years of our lives– if we could thread the needle and pair this with the cowpunk band we had formed in NYC in our early 20s, somehow also folding in the outsider rock and freak folk of our youth, maybe we would have something pretty cool.

What follows is a playlist Ted created to pair with a very long welcome email I wrote to the Coin of Gold squad (omitted here for brevity). I think it’s an interesting window into Ted and my thinking on the front end of this project, as we were trying to find references for what we were going for. On one side of the coin, it’s a killer playlist, diverse and alive and spirited in all the ways good music can be. I hope you like it, and maybe it will help you understand what the heck is going on with Coin of Gold if its range and departure from my mostly roots rock sound confounds you or causes you spiritual indigestion. Peace be with you.

Ted Robinson adds this is, “A collection of songs collected to share with the musicians that played on Coin of Gold. The accompanying text summarizes what I was trying to communicate with their inclusion.

Comparação: Charanga e Chara

Although we didn’t exactly follow its lead but this song is a great example of doing a lot with a little. Just a few elements combine to create a piece of music I find it irresistible to dance to. One of these elements is an amazing impression of an excited dog. Another is the masterful close harmonies.

Can’t Run But: Paul Simon

Every time this song comes on I immediately become the star in my own music video. We owe a lot to this album and the grooves contained therein.

That’s Enough for Me: Fleetwood Mac

This songs captures the manic mind-losing intensity that Nick and I try to include in some of the music we make.

imagine: Ariana Grande

Great example of something impressive happening near the end of a song.

Mountain Dew: Ween

I’d rather see somebody try hard than do something perfectly without much of an effort. Good time > Long time.

If Drinking Don’t Kill Me: George Jones

If you’d like a great introduction to this artist and this album I recommend listening to the 2nd season of Cocaine & Rhinestones which is a podcast. If you’d like to hear one of the best opening stanzas in the history of songwriting listen to this song.

Tezeta Mahmoud Ahmed

I aspire to play music with the grace and kindness that these musicians do.

Paper Thin Hotel: Leonard Cohen

Death of a Ladies Man.

No Meio do Pitiú: Dano Onete

Age ain’t nothing but a number.

Los shapis: Ganzo de Oro

A band based around the partnership of two friends playing at the perfect volume. 

El Guapo: Los Diablos Rojos and Cumbia de los Pajaritos: Los Mirlos

I’ve included two tracks from two separate Chicha compilations. Chicha and Psychedelic Cumbia are vast musical landscapes and there are many artists you can explore. These compilations are great ways to get started. Also these two songs have another thing in common, they both have impeccable guitar playing on them. Truly transcendent operation of the instrument.

La Cumbia de los Boliches: Los Daddy’s:

Chucho Ponce is a power house.

New World Order: Blue Jazz TV

True visionaries who build a terrible world and then give you a corner office in the biggest building in it.

Miles Davis: Directions

I included this to give an example of a group of musicians improvising with dumbfounding depth and cohesion. I also included it for the visual majesty of watching this group perform at the 1970 Isle of Wight festival. You can find a recording of the entire performance on youtube and it is amazing.”

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