50th Anniversary of Peppermint Trolley Company Recording ‘It’s a Lazy Summer Day’

June 21, 2017 in Happenings, Thoughts

Listen to ‘It’s a Lazy Summer Day’Lazy summer Day(2)

Wow, fifty years ago! Hard to believe. Looking back after all these years I can see how important this event – our recording ‘It’s a Lazy Summer Day’ – was in the trajectory of my life. This gentle tune with it’s flower child message was the first hint of what our little band of cohorts could achieve in the studio. It also got the record company excited about us and willing to cultivate the group’s potential.  On a personal level it came at just the right moment for I was truly lost.  Being able to commit to making music saved my life.

‘So, kick off your shoes a while/ It’s a day to make you smile.’

Three weeks later...

Three weeks later…

 

Hunter’s Moon Rising

October 19, 2016 in Happenings, Nature's Backyard, Poetry, Thoughts

hunter’s moon risinghuntersmoon3
breaking  through horizon’s seal
its luminescence partially blocked
by slashing power lines
and blunt fisted towers
but destined to ascend full and free
in the clear October sky
like a big, voluptuous scoop  of dreams

 

 

Danny Faragher
10/19/16

‘The Devil Wind Blues’ from the ‘Dancing with the Moment’ album

September 25, 2016 in Events, Happenings, Thoughts

devilwindblues

 

Listen to ‘The Devil Wind Blues’ here.

Blowin'HarpatRecordRelease

Santana Winds are howlin’ and the night is closing in.
Santana Winds are howlin’ and the night is closing in.
There is no escaping once these devil winds begin.

Hear those sirens wailing? A smell of smoke is in the air.
Hear those sirens wailing? A smell of smoke is in the air.
Some fool playing with matches while devil winds are on a tear.

These winds keep growing stronger. Black night is falling fast.
These winds keep growing stronger. The black night is falling fast.
While I grow weak and weary trying to get beyond the past.

Don’t it seem like everything keep changing? Seems like nothin’ sticks around.
Everything keep changing. Nothin’ sticks around.
But these old devil winds? They will always make it back to town.

The air so dry and stifling. I would take the damp and cold.
This air so dry and stifling. I would take the damp and cold.
I lie here in this room feeling lost and gettin’ old.

Danny Faragher

Every year without fail, the Santa Anas – the ‘Devil Winds’ –
arrive in Southern California, to blow their hot dry air
through the passes and down to the coast, toppling
trees,  stoking raging fires, and making a person’s skin crawl.santa-ana-winds

In his book ‘Red Wind’ Raymond Chandler, in the voice
of P.I. Phillip Marlowe, writes:

There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was
one of those hot dry Santa Anas
that come down
through the mountain passes and curl your hair and
make your
nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights
like that every booze party ends in a fight.
Meek little
wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their
husbands’ necks.
Anything can happen . You can even
get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge.’

I thought the theme of the Devil Winds as an ever occurring presence could make
a good blues. I imagined the singer lying in a room, a world-weary soul filled with
regret and disappointment, as outside the wind howls,  sirens wail, and a smell
of smoke fills the air. All of which  serves to create an atmosphere of claustrophobia
that cannot be escaped. The realization that these winds have probably been coming
for millennia and will always ‘make it back to town’ prompt the singer to confront his
own mortality with a sigh.devil-wind-fire

The players:
Danny Faragher – vocal, harmonica, organ, and trombone
Craig Copeland   – electric guitar, and lap steel guitar.
Simeon Pillich    – bass
Chris Blondal      – drums

Front Album Cover of Dancing with the Moment - Danny Faragher

Front Album Cover of Dancing with the Moment – Danny Faragher

 

 

‘Rainbow Pier’ – A Musical Soundscape of a Magical Memory

September 5, 2016 in Events, Happenings

Long Beach, CA at night from Rainbow Pier

Listen to ‘Rainbow Pier’ from the ‘Dancing with the Moment’ album.

Among the dream- like images that  swirl and mingle in my mind is an early childhood
memory of a moonlit drive with my family around Rainbow Pier in Long Beach, California,
the city of my birth.  I remember poking my head out the window of our ’43 Chevy to have a
look. The air against my face was cool and misty. The water below rippled with the colors of
the rainbow. Ah.. the sound of the surf whispered so soothingly in my ears, while the thought
of  a wild and mysterious sea beyond lit my imagination.early_years_1

I also recall sitting at my Grandmother’s piano  on a mellow afternoon
with the scent of magnolia blossoms in the air, wanting to capture with
music the sensation of that moonlit drive. With two fingers  I began
teasing out a  pentatonic melody on the black keys. Alas,I was only four
and had neither the ability nor the attention span to complete it.

Over a half century later I was to sit at the piano once again to attempt
to paint a musicalpicture of that magical memory. This time, with a bit
of inspiration and whole lot of craft.I was able to pull it off.

‘Rainbow Pier’ is a very Impressionistic instrumental piece.
Inspired by the likes of Duke Ellington, Claude Debussey, and
Stevie Wonder,it is more a composition than a song. Not jazz,
not classical , not pop; it falls somewhere in-between. The intro features duel trombones that
sound like French Horns playing a luring call, first in a lower and then an upper octave, over
a droning fifth interval  on piano and chromatic harmonica . It then moves into the first theme,
which is played on the piano. With its dreamy jazz feel, it reflects the peaceful water below the pier.
This A section is repeated with flute, trombone, clarinet, and harmonica joining in. It then moves
into a B theme played on the chromatic harmonica in which the sea begins to stir, as the music
modulates upward until it crescendos into  theme C in which the harmonica is joined by Sirene
voices descending in parallel harmony. This is followed by a ritardando and a  final seductive call
before picking up  with the duel horns to repeat the cycle. This time the call after section C is followed
by everything seemingly falling  in whole tones down a watery hole and emerging into the A section
once more.The piece then settles into a sparse hypnotic groove which features wind chimes and
piano playing wistful pentatonic lines and represents the imagination of the little boy at the piano.

Front Album Cover of Dancing with the Moment - Danny Faragher

Front Album Cover of Dancing with the Moment – Danny Faragherthe little boy at the piano.

With the exception of the midi piano and bass, and the use of a click track, ‘Rainbow Pier’ was
recorded using the following acoustic instruments: flute, chromatic harmonica, trombone,
clarinet, drums, and wind chimes.The voicing of the wind ensemble in the A section is unusual.
From top down I place  the flute, trombone ,clarinet, and chromatic harmonica. This gives the
sound a free and airy sound on the top and a dark, reedy timbre below. It all worked surprisingly
well. My inspiration was Ellington’s singular voicing on ‘Mood Indigo’ in which he had the clarinet
pitched below the trombone.

I had initially sung the Sirene parts myself (not bad, either) but, desiring a true female sound, I
brought in three singers who got what I was going for and nailed the parts. The use of the wind
chimes was a lucky lark. I happened to be playing the piano when I heard the chimes tinkling
outside in the breeze. They were tuned to produce a Bb major pentatonic scale. It struck  me that
in the key Eb, the chimes would give me a major 7th with a 9th chord. It worked like a charm.

‘Rainbow Pier’ was engineered and mastered by Bryan Faragher. Using a time map to achieve
the ritard was tricky but Bryan pulled it off.  The singers were Karen Whipple Schnurr, soprano,
Donna Deussen, alto, and Jody Mortara, low alto. Chris Blondal provided the fine brush work on
the drums. All other instruments were played by yours truly.

About Rainbow Pier

The horseshoe shaped Rainbow Pier was built in 1932 to protect the newly constructed Long BeachRainbow Pier1)
Municipal Auditorium. Its practical function was to serve as a breakwater. At night, though, with
its multi-colored lights reflecting in the water, the Pier offered an aesthetically pleasing diversion.

The Municipal Auditorium stood where  American Boulevard (now renamed Long Beach Blvd.) hit
the beach. The Americana- themed mural on its face could be seen blocks away.I remember as a child
being awe struck every time I saw it. With 8000 seats, it was the city’s main  concert venue. Elvis Presley appeared there in 1956. In 1959. as a member of the grade school all city youth orchestra I was thrilled to
be asked to play there. In 1972 my rock band, Bones, performed a sold out concert at the auditorium, sharing the bill with the San Francisco band, Cold Blood. I was ecstatic to be playing once again at the
dear old Municipal. To shake a tail feather on the same stage that Elvis had was a childhood dream come
true. Long since torn down, both Rainbow Pier and the Municipal Auditorium exist only in memory.

I hope the Rainbow Pier experience comes alive through the music.

Love and Harmony,
Danny Faragher

MunicipalAud_1

view-from-rainbow-pier-long-beach-california-0d0ce4349da2ec8507eb92f8ab2ad954

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the Peppermint Trolley Company – ‘It’s a Lazy Summer Day’ in the Summer of Love

August 31, 2016 in Events

During the winter of 1967 my brother Jimmy and I continued to drive into Holly wood

Three weeks later...

Casey Cunningham, Jimmy Faragher, And Danny Farsagher

on the week-ends to record with Producer Dan Dalton. In addition to cutting three sides
as the Peppermint Trolley Company, we sang and played background for other artists.
A 45 single of ‘She’s the Kind of Girl’/’Little Miss Sunshine’ was released on Dalton’s
Kelly label before being picked up by Acta Records.

In the meantime the world around us seemed to accelerate. Along with our drummer
friend, Casey Cunningham, and new found buddy, Patrick McClure, we became active
in the Peace Movement and, dare I say it, slightly psychedelicized.  We were listening to
a wide range of artists, including the Doors, the Jefferson Airplane, the Paul Butterfield
Blues Band, Phil Ochs, and Laura Nyro.  We understood that Acta had signed us with the
expectation that we would deliver light pop fare (a genre that is now refered to as sunshine pop).
Although we were confident we could provide that kind of sound, we were filled with creative
energy and chaffing at the leash. Our dream was to form a real band with Casey on the drums
and to come up with an original sound.

In May Jimmy wrote a song that seemed to encapsulate the moment. It was called ‘It’s a Lazy
Summer Day’.  Melodic, dreamy and innocent, it was like a flower-child anthem. The three
of us played it for  Dan and his wife, Lois Fletcher, and they both loved it. Within the week
we were in Moonglow Studio to lay it down before summer. It was the first PTC record on
which we cut our own basic track, which was recorded live with Jimmy on bass, Casey on
drums, and me on the Hammond B3. Danish singer/songwriter James Fleming Rasmussen
played the acoustic guitar. The vocal arrangement was done on the spot as we stood in frontLazy summer Day(2)
of the mic.

As we listened to the rough mix, the excitement in the room was palpable. By God, we had
our own sound! The harmonies and counter points were sophisticated and psychedelic, while
the organ intro and outro gave it a baroque flavor.Yes, it was light and breezy but it was also
organic and honest. Amidst  the song’s carefree innocence a darker reality was implied – ‘No
one wants to start a fight/ So let’s take a walk tonight.’   It was like a blossom in
the barrel of an M16. We’d managed to stay in the ballpark while pouring a little magic
mushroom powder into the soda.

Acta president, Kenny Meyers, was crazy about it and decided to do a rush release. By July,
‘It’s a Lazy Summer Day’  was pressed and ready to be shipped (Listen here.) One
morning, three weeks later I received a phone call  on my folk’s phone. On the line was Bob
McCormack, the program director for radio station KMEN 129 in San Bernardino. He had
just read the rave reviews of our record  in Billboard, Cashbox , and Record World. Man, was
he pumped.  ‘Danny, we’re going to bring this one home for you guys!’ he told me. That
day we heard ‘A Lazy Summer Day’  on the radio. The Summer of Love was in full swing.

PTC with T. Michael Jordan

Peppermint Trolley Company with KMEN DJ, T. Michael Jordan

 

Fiftieth Anniversary of the Peppermint Trolley Company Recording Debut

August 26, 2016 in Happenings

Selma and Cosmo, Moonglow Studio and the infamous 1966 Hollywood Sunset Strip Curfew Riot

 

Hard to believe, but it has been a half century since my brother Jimmy and I
stepped into Moonglow, a small studio that stood at the corner of Selma and
Cosmo in Hollywood, California, to record the P.F. Sloan penned ‘Lollipop Train’

The Mark V line-up: Danny Faragher, Dave Kelliher, Brad Madson, Dick Owens, Jimmy Faragher, and Steve Hauser

The Mark V line-up: Danny Faragher, Dave Kelliher, Brad Madson, Dick Owens, Jimmy Faragher, and Steve Hauser

and our own ‘Bored to Tears’ for Valiant Records. It was to be our first record
using the moniker ‘ThePeppermint Trolley Company’. At the time the two of us
were members of the Mark V, a band that had been together since 1962. Having
already released three singles for Impression Records, we weren’t complete novices,
but we were still pretty green. At the urging of producer Dan Dalton, we changed
our name and began to focus in a new direction, striving for a more polished sound
with the accent on the vocal arrangements.

When we arrived in the summer of 1966 the city teaming with creativity. With new
sounds emerging from L.A based bands like Love, the Buffalo Springfield, the Doors
and Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention, it was an incredible year for popular music.
The Beatles, Beach Boys, and Rolling Stones had recently released ‘Revolver’, ‘Pet
Sounds’, and ‘Aftermath’, respectively, pushing the boundaries of rock music. There
was a buzz in the air, and the Hollywood music scene was alive and well with numerous
rock clubs like the’Trip’, ‘Pandora’s Box’, and  ‘Bido Lido’s’. Oh, it was such an exciting
time to be in town. We were jazzed just to be playing a part.

By February of the following  year, the others members of the Mark V would choose to go
their separate ways, and  Jimmy and I would continue to record as the PTC . In the fall of
1967, with the addition of Casey Cunningham, and Greg Tornquist, the classic Lollipop Train 45 1)line-up
of the band would be in place. In November we would set to wax the haunting ‘Baby,
You Come Rollin’ Across My Mind’ which would change everything, and give us the
green light to record the critically acclaimed Peppermint Trolley Company album
in 1968. Over the years the LP would gain cult status as a classic of psyche rock, baroque
rock and sunshine pop (terms that would be coined decades later). In 2009 it would be
gloriously reissued under the title ‘Beautiful Sun’ for Steve Stanley’s Now Sound Records.

As of this writing, Jimmy, Casey, Greg and I are all still alive and well, as are the former
members of the Mark V.  Sadly we lost Patrick McClure a few years ago. Though Pat had
been in PTC  only briefly (He appears with us in the‘Beverly Hillbillies” episode), his song
writing was essential to the artistic success of the album. He is dearly missed.

It warms my soul to know that fifty years after we pulled up to the curbside at Selma and
Cosmo to embark on a new adventure, the music of the Peppermint Trolley Company is
still rolling across people’s minds. Long live the PTC!

Love and Harmony,

Danny Faragher

 

 

Peppermint_Trolley_Company _album

‘The Devil and the Koch Brothers’ – a poem by Danny Faragher with artwork by Michael Cano

July 20, 2016 in Happenings, Of the World, Poetry, Thoughts

The Devil and the Koch Brothers

The Devil dined with the Brothers Koch.The Devil and the Koch Brothers
“Boys,” he said. “I like your style…
“You pull those strings behind a cloak
“And embrace the darkness with a smile.”

The Brothers drank the wine and dreamed
A dream of empires rich and vast.
And with their dinner guest they schemed
And gave a toast to oil and gas.

“The meal’s on me.” the Devil said.
“I’ll see you boys in the ‘by and by’.”
And there was scarcely a moment’s dread
Or thought of the camel and the needle’s eye

 

On the writing of this poem:

I composed this piece in 2011. At that time the Koch Brothers were still pretty much flying under the radar.
I was puzzled as to what motivated them. How much more does one need? I would think that with age a person
would grow more tolerant and philosophical.  After all you can’t take it with you. David and Charles Koch, however,  seem to have carried their  craving
for power and riches well into their final years. The Faustian scenario popped into my head.

I decided to write it as a rhyming ballad, using  the quick rhythm of say… Coleridge’s ‘Kublai Khan’.  The conversation is all on the Devil’s
part (the silver tongued gent). I enjoyed closing it out with a biblical reference.

On the artwork:

Michael and I have collaborated on a number of pieces. His visual illustration is always original and provocative.
I am particularly knocked out by the art here.  With just a few suggestions –  among them that I wanted the Devil to be attractive and
human- he took the ball and ran with it. The idea of the Kochs having hand puppet bodies is marvelous . Michael’s wife, Patsy Faragher (my sister)
provided the inspiration for the scorpion-tailed cornucopia and also shot the photo. I am proud to say this project has been a family affair.
May there be many more in the future.

Love and Harmony,
Danny Faragher

the dancer

June 8, 2016 in Happenings, Poetry, Reflections, Thoughts

2006_12-26__Long Hard Climb 134the dancer

out of breath and behind the beat,
pushing hard to make my way,
like a dancer looking at his feet
I often stumble through the day.

so unlike that ‘parallel me’ who
completes each task with style and verve,
and coolly knocks it out of the park
when life throws him a wicked curve.

but sometimes when I’m flat on my face,
feeling as though I can’t get through it,
the other guy turns to wave me on, saying
‘hey, man! c’mon, you can do it!’

 

‘Open the Door’ song lyrics

June 1, 2016 in Happenings, Nature's Backyard, Poetry, Reflections, Thoughts

‘Open the Door’ – From the ‘Dancing with the Moment’ album.TMP-Shoot---Canyon-Hike-PR-049a

verse 1
Hear the morning breeze that’s rattling the window
Feel the waking sun peep through the blinds
Lost in a daydream Thoughts so far away
But aware of how the ‘here and the now’
Is slipping away

verse 2
Smell each steaming drip of coffee a’brewing
Watch the bob and weave of birds in the air
Lost in reflection
A million miles away
But hearing the bell and knowing full well
We’ve only today
So come out and play

chorus
Open the door and step outside
Step outside
There’s such a world to share
So open up the door and step outside

verse 3
Lost in a memory
Of good things left undone
But hearing the chime and knowing that time
Waits for no one
To dance ‘neath the sun

Chorus
Open the door and step outside
Step outside
There’s such a world to share
So open up the door

Open the door and step outside
Step outside
There’s such a world to share
Outside
Step outside

Open the door and step outside…

 

About the writing of  Open the Door

The music came first. At the time I had been immersing myself in Brian Wilson’s ‘Pet Sounds’ and the soaring melody
reflects that. Lyrically, I wanted to write something that had an almost child like innocence to it. It’s simply about tuning
into life – being a dreamer but engaging the world. Greeting the morning as if it were the first (or the last). Life is a miracle.
Open the door and embrace it.

Love and Harmony
Danny Faragher

Birthday Poem

May 15, 2016 in Happenings, Poetry, Reflections, Thoughts

Birthday Poem

Danny New Year Shot 206eyes open from a dream
Sunday morning
sleeping in.
a  lawnmower is humming

think I’ll stay put awhile
let my thoughts swirl
and meander where they will

I can hear the drumming
of tiny feet as squirrels
chase across the roof

today begins my
sixty-ninth year
(funny how the number
still evokes an
adolescent chuckle
or,  perhaps,
even a
secret
sigh)

oh god!
am I really that old?

hey!
a number is a
number is a
number. just an
arbitrary slice,
an artificial notch
on the wall

outside,
the world
beckons

through my second floor window
the sky hangs clear and blue
above the gabled rooftops

but peace is abruptly broken –
a crow flying from tree to
wire displaces and troubles

a pair of mourning doves.
his victory caw ricochtets
through the neighborhood

I laugh out loud

easy to forget
how good it feels
just to be alive

an urge compels me
to mark this moment.
to transform the
nonverbal into words
to turn water into wine

I close my eyes
and  slowly
let  the bucket
drop down
into  the
well

inspiration is a
touchy process. it
resists a needy mind

one must be coy,
feign indifference but be
ever at the ready…

ah, the payoff

suddenly, words begin
to flutter by like
butterflies on the wing

most of them will vanish down
the hole where my forgotten
passwords sleep

but I will  manage to
snatch a few

slowly,
steadily,
out of chaos
an image takes shape.

like  a torch lit pictograph
on a cavern wall
a poem begins to emerge

I must run down stairs
write it down
capture it,
nurture it
savor it

May 15, 2016

Photos by Charlotte Olivea McClain