One Last Time in Harmony

May 1, 2014 in Events, Happenings

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In 2008 we five members of the bands- the Peppermint Trolley Company, and Bones – Jimmy Faragher, Greg Tornquist, Casey Cunningham, Patrick McClure, and myself, Danny Faragher (We affectionately refer to ourselves as Bones Brothers) were reunited. It was the first time in thirty-five years. Though the decades had passed, our friendship bond, based on a unique shared experience was as strong as ever.  Oh what a joyous occasion It was! We played and sang Jimmy’s beautiful tune – Harmony from the album – Waitin’ Here. Little did we know that it would  be the last time we would stand together. In March of this year we lost Patrick.  Here are some moments from that day caught on tape combined with some rare photographs compiled and edited by Bryan Faragher into this touching video, a moving tribute to Bones Brother Patrick McClure. Our thanks to Michael McClure for supplying many of the superb photographs.

‘Broken Hearts and Hopeful Dreams’ – Remembering Patrick McClure

April 18, 2014 in Events, Happenings, Thoughts

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I Remember Long Ago

It was the spring of 1967. A whirlwind of change was in there air. The art scene, music  in particular, was exploding with creativity. Conversely, the war in Vietnam continued its steady escalation, and the draft hung over young males’ heads like a sword of Damocles. Having become increasingly distressed by the conflict, and  committed in my opposition, I planned and carried out a one-man anti-war protest at the school  I was attending. San Bernardino Valley College was a very conservative campus, and as I stood on the walkway with homemade placard in hand, very few students offered any words of encouragement. Most were apathetic, and an angry few met my demonstration with outright contempt and hostility. Some were even confrontational, yelling point blank in my face – the spittle flying. I was feeling truly alone in my forlorn folly when I was approached by a guy with an easy going manner. The eyes behind the wire rimmed glasses were intelligent, inquisitive, and friendly. He introduced himself. His name was Patrick McClure. Right away he let me know that he was in solidarity with what I was doing. As we became engrossed in conversation, the act of chatting served to break the tension.

“Fuckin’ commie lover!” a passerby shouted, extending a middle finger.

The insult was like water off a duck’s back. I was otherwise engaged – thank-you much!

My friendship with Patrick appeared like an oasis in a vast wasteland, and In the weeks that followed, we became fast buddies. I learned that he and his family had moved to Redlands from Santa Cruz, and that they lived just several blocks from my folks. In addition to similar political views, we also shared a passion for music. Being from the Bay Area, he was much more exposed to the San Francisco scene. He had a copy of the Jefferson Airplane’s Surrealistic Pillow.  I remember lying on the floor in his room, listening to the record, marveling at the sound which seemed to encapsulate the spirit of the time. He’d figured out and could play Embryonic Journey on acoustic guitar. I could see that he liked to tinker with music: Take it apart, analyze it, understand it. I admired this immensely. We also hung out at my little pad in Riverside where I introduced him to my brothers and friends. We jammed, talked,  and, I’m embarrassed to say, even tried smoking banana peels, getting nothing but headaches and charred throats for our trouble.

I discovered that Patrick not only talked the talk – he walked the walk. In June, he was with us to share the beautiful  experience that was the  Monterey Pop Festival, and one week later stood alongside my brothers and me as the police mounted their vicious attack at Century Plaza. These seminal events served to strengthen the bonds. We developed a strong sense of knowing we had each other’s backs.

A Lazy Summer Day

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Rehearsing for first concert. From left to right, Patrick, Danny, Casey and Jimmy.

My brother Jimmy and I had a recording contract as the Peppermint Trolley Company, and had brought our friend Casey Cunningham into our group to play drums. In July, our single, A Lazy Summer Day, was getting some airplay locally and our manager booked us on a concert as the opening act for Big Brother and the Holding Company featuring Janis Joplin at the Kaiser Dome in San Bernardino. We needed a guitarist, quick, fast, and in a hurry, and asked Patrick to join the band. To our delight, he agreed. Pat’s parents and siblings were out of town so we holed up in his house and woodshed like crazy for a week straight, managing to put together a set of perhaps eight or nine songs. Try as we may, there was just no hiding the fact that we were green. I know that it was difficult for me, so I can’t imagine how daunting a task it must have been for Pat. To have never even played in a band before, and to be suddenly thrust on stage in front of five thousand kids is a scary proposition. That takes balls – or naiveté… or both! (read more at the Peppermint Trolley Company bio)

On the night of the concert, we managed to complete a very jittery performance that was largely held together by Casey’s solid drumming.  I’m sure we were dreadful, but at least we’d gotten through it and survived. To top off an absurd night, Big Brother was a no show. The promoter, a program director of a local radio station, pleaded with us to get back on stage.  We replied that we had no more material worked up, that we’d shot our wad, and weren’t eager to repeat the experience. By serendipity, some musician buddies of ours, a band, were in the audience at the time and took the stage to perform some covers. This appeased the crowd somewhat, but then our friends began cracking smart ass jokes about the incompetence of the radio station. As a result, the promoter, who was livid, dropped our record from the play list.

A few weeks later we opened for the Buffalo Springfield at the Swing Auditorium. This time the headliner showed up! I felt a little better about our performance, but knew we were no great shakes as an act. Shortly after this we made the move to Los Angeles. There is a photo of the four of us posing in front of Casey’s Chevy van. The picture was taken in Redlands just minutes before we took off. We look like babes in the wood.

Sadness Within Your Eyes

In front of Buster. Redlands boys L.A. bound

In front of Buster. Redlands boys L.A. bound

No sooner had we settled into the Silver Lake rental house, when our manager landed us a featured spot as a hippie band on the Beverly Hillbillies. There we were on the tube all decked out in whatever silly wigs and mismatched apparel the Paramount costume department could find. It was a kick, and we made a little cash, but there was always that nagging feeling that we needed to get to work and  come up with some new material to keep it all rolling. Patrick was pretty disciplined about sticking with a musical idea and developing it until it was a completed song.  Jimmy has spoken about how much he was influenced as a songwriter by Pat’s dogged example. I recall our trying to work up a couple of his tunes, but deciding they weren’t quite right for the band.

In October, Patrick shocked us all by announcing he was leaving the group to get married. Shortly after this Greg Tornquist joined to take over the guitar slot. Sounds like the end of the story, doesn’t it? The irony is that Pat would have much more creative input to the PTC after he left than before. He continued to be a frequent presence at the band house, and both he and Jimmy began what was to be a creative surge. The first collaborative effort was Pat’s Song – a beautiful and deceptively simple melody. Jimmy, after being frustrated with his first attempts to put words to it, decided to write the lyric about Pat’s leaving. It was a perfect match. The result was both sophisticated and poignant.

You don’t have to tell me. I already know.
Sadness within your eyes says it’s time to go.

Many more tunes were to follow. I still carry the image in my head of Patrick and Jimmy sitting in the living room , guitars in hand,  facing each other as a new song came to life. Patrick would be involved in the writing of seven of the band’s nine original songs on the1968 Peppermint Trolley Company album.

Pat wasn’t one to come up with a chord progression first and write a melody over it.He would start with a fragment of a melocic idea, and let everything ripple out from that center, exploring different chord progressions and key modulations along the way It was a process that seemed to be driven equally by emotion and intellect. The result was something interesting, but always honest, and straight from the heart.

Sunrise was  penned solely by Pat.  It is a song that spoke to me, and which I had the good fortune to sing lead on. Years later he provided the back story of its creation. He’d been up north dealing with the draft, and had driven back through the night. Just before dawn he pulled off to the side of the road, grabbed his guitar, opened the back door of his bread truck, and sat there strumming as the sun rose. The words and music came simultaneously, and the song was completed within minutes.

Today let me down but I know that the sun will shine.

These lyrics bear the imprint of a McClure song: Sad, but always hopeful. In my opinion these tunes are timeless. In a just world they would be recognized as the musical gems they are.

Harmony

Pat also became a good guitar player. I think his strongest suit was acoustic finger picking, and a lot of his songs were based around this style. He was floored by Mason Williams’ Classical Gas when he heard it on the radio, and after figuring the song out, he went on to compose his own piece in the same style (I wish I had a recording of it). A finger picker, yes, but he also grew as an electric player and became proficient in the blues slide style.  In 1972 he became the fifth member of Bones (Same band, different name).  The Waitin’ Here album features some great guitar licks by both Greg and Pat.  The cut, Harmony, features the duo of Greg on acoustic, and Pat on electric slide backing Jimmy’s haunting lead. It is a beautiful example of Bones’ ballad sound. (Read more at the Bones Bio)

Patrick also played electric guitar on several tracks of the Faragher Brothers first album – the ‘Yellow Album’ This was a completely different style –  R&B and soul – but he’s right in the pocket, scratching out solid and exciting rhythm on tunes like Best Years of My Life.   (Read more at the Faragher Brothers Bio).

I deeply regret that after the mid Seventies we fell out of touch. One thinks – “Oh there’ll always be time to reconnect.” –  but time melts away. Thanks to his brother Michael we got in touch with each other about seven years ago and began corresponding via email.Patrick mailed me a CD of original songs. I loved it!  As a songwriter he still had the goods.  In 2008 the five of us Bones brothers were reunited for Greg’s wedding where we performed Harmony. Sadly, it was to be the last time we would all  be together.

He fought valiantly for years to beat the odds in his battle with cancer.  I believe he fought so hard because he loved life so dearly. It was inspiring to hear family and friends testify to his loving and unique character at the event celebrating his life. He was a wonderful brother, father, friend and colleague.  He possessed an artistic soul, a keen intellect, and a generous spirit. He was also a man of action, a man who loved biking, playing baseball and soccer, and traveling the world. In short, he was a renaissance man.

I look at a photo of Pat and  I see a person who engages the camera, just as he engaged the world – with confidence, energy, and curiosity. Someone who is comfortable in his own skin. Someone who is able to reconcile the yin and yang of being both a realist and an optimist.

I thank my lucky stars that he approached me that spring day so many years ago. He was a friend, band mate, and fellow activist. Oh how we sang the good song and fought the good fight.  We were young artists driven by the creative urge, and the world was our oyster.  How  I cherish those memories. How I will miss him. He was a brother, and I loved the man.

MoreOrLessLyrics

On the Waitin’ Here LP there is a song written and sung by Pat. It’s called More or Less. It has become my favorite cut from the record. The tune hearkens back to that Northern California sound of the mid to late sixties. It begins with a fingered guitar weaving a woodsy spell  followed by Greg’s mystical flute part answering the call before Patrick enters to sing the simple and direct words that say so much.

Love in life is all I want
Not a car or a restaurant
And so I love you more each day
You help me find my way

 The rain will fall upon the land
No matter where you chose to stand
The sun will come again one day
To help us find our way

And it’s more or less as it seems
The broken hearts and the hopeful dreams
My question is – Will our dreams come true?
Come true

 We are all stardust.

 

 

 

My New Album – ‘Dancing with the Moment’ – It’s a Wrap!

March 20, 2014 in Events, Happenings, Thoughts, Uncategorized

Banner discussing the upcoming album for Danny Faragher - Dancing with the Moment by Danny Faragher

sometimes on a sleepless night
the elusive muse appears before me
and with seductive charm implores me
in sweet persuasion I can’t fight
she reaches out to extend the touch
of fingertips beneath my chin
and gently lifts my gaze to hers
to command with whisper – ‘Write’. 

D.F. 

The Moment

 It had been a productive session. Now we could sit back and enjoy the fruit of our labors. The track rolled… Suddenly over the studio speakers voices rang out with joyous urgency – “Dancing with the moment, and the moment sets me free.” Bryan, his hands on the soundboard,  turned to look over at me –

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Danny laying down a track.

“I think we’re on to something!” he said.

My son is not given to throwing out  such statements lightly, so when  he speaks I pay attention.    I closed my eyes and let the music swirl around me. Indeed, we were ‘on to something’ – something singular, something real. After  a long process of writing, arranging, and recording, my tune, Song in the Night  had come together as I had envisioned. How often in life does that happen?   I felt as if I were flying.

This moment in the summer of 2010 infused energy into a project which had been on a slow burn for years. The song not only supplied the title to my album, it gave it shape and momentum.

Now, four years, and six songs further along,  Dancing with the Moment  is a wrap!  It’s been recorded, mixed, and mastered, and the cover art will be finished in time for a spring release this year. The album’s launch will also be accompanied by several video releases for some of the songs.  We are excited! It was a long time coming, but well worth the years of hard work. For me the album has been a labor of love.  It’s supplied  direction for my creativity, and given me the opportunity to work with Bryan. I will always cherish those hours spent  ‘Burning the lamp through the night’.

Because my career has been varied, and my pallet broad, I initially felt some reluctance at attempting to put my songs into a single package. After all, we live in an age where music is pigeon-holed and stamped with the narrowest of labels. An artist is expected  to describe their sound with one or two words. Rolling the idea over in my mind, I flashed back to 1967 when  I would listen  to underground FM radio. The DJ played it all, from hard rock to classical and everything in between – the Beatles, Joan Baez, Otis Redding, Brian Wilson, John Coltrane, Fred Neil, early Elvis, Bach, Satie.. .  It was a trip!  What a mix of sounds!  I decided I wanted to create something comparable to that experience, and vowed to heedlessly trespass across genre lines.

Chaucer, Keats, and Willie Dixon
Echo in this crazy brain
Emily, Robert, Walt and Hank
O lustrous star! O lonesome train!

Frederick, Miles, Brian, and John
Good vibrations intertwined
Words and music coalesce
To form the soundscape of my mind 

D.F.

Dancing

So if label we must, here’s a new moniker… Are you ready?  Call it Retro Eclectic, i.e. Music that is both rooted and experimental. It is music that embraces modern recording techniques like electronic sounds and drum loops, while maintaining focus on the heart and soul of the song. It also crosses generational lines – a result in part from the collaboration with my son, a fantastic sound engineer who has also been composing exciting electronic music for years.

The title – Dancing with the Moment – can be taken three different ways. First, it signifies embracing the here and now (For that’s all we really have).  Secondly,  it means trying to keep one’s balance as life hurls the unexpected upon you (Sound familiar?). Lastly, it’s about those salient moments in life – epiphanies, or just being acutely aware of being alive – that dance in the memory. Many of the tunes on this album are about such moments and have a cinematic sensibility to them. My goal has been to put the listener right there in the scene with me, whether it’s about a glorious summer day at the beach (Pacific Blue), or being deep in the blues amidst a smoky night as the Santa Ana winds howl (Devil Wind Blues).

Memories race through my mind
The good and the bad, the happy the sad
Streaming again in my mind
Life is a blink of an eye
No sooner begun when it’s over and done
All in the blink of an eye
As time rushes by

D.F. – (from  Song in the Night)

Over time the structure of the album has evolved into more than just a collection of tunes. It has taken shape as a whole piece. Each song unfolds to the next, as if on a journey that weaves through a day, or perhaps through a life. Throughout the creative process I have tried to stay honest, to keep it real.  No posing. No pretensions. Nothing has been forced to fit into a preconceived notion. Rather, it has evovled organically. With the goal in mind of creating something real, I feel I have given a little piece of myself with every song- in  the writing, arranging, singing and playing.

Bryan at the soundboard.

Bryan at the soundboard.

I believe those who are fans of the bands I was a part of – the Peppermint Trolley Company, Bones, the Faragher Brothers, and even the Mark V – will find something they really dig. something that speaks to them in Dancing with the Moment.. I’ve tried to carry on the lessons  I learned from years in the studio – Come up with a good song (catchy and soulful melody with intelligent lyrics),  create interesting arrangements (both instrumental and vocal), and feature solos that are concise and to the point.

The album will be available both as a CD copy, and as downloadable mp3. We will be offering free downloads of some of the tunes, so stay tuned.

For all those times when I’ve felt like a kid sitting at the back of the classroom  with my hand perpetually raised, waiting to be called, I can say  it is a sweet feeling to have siezed the moment  ‘...to dance ‘neath the sun.’

Peace,

Danny Faragher

A list of artist friends who contributed their talents to the making of Dancing with the Moment (I will sing your praises in the coming days):

Bryan Faragher, Tim Horrigan, Chris Blondal, Craig Copeland, Jane Getz, Simeon Pillich, Bob Tucker, Bob Gother, Davey Faragher, Jimmy Faragher, Pammy Armstrong, Matt Tucciaroni, Pete McCrea, Donna Deussen, Karen Schnurr, Jody Mortara

 

Setting the Record Straight on the Peppermint Trolley Company

November 16, 2012 in Thoughts

I was recently on redtelephone.com, and was pleasantly surprised to discover an article on the Peppermint Trolley Co. Although I dug the spirit of the piece, and continue to be delighted at people’s interest in the music, I found that  it contained some misconceptions which I run into now and again. I thought I would take the time to respond, and share my first hand knowledge of what took place some forty plus years ago.

The following is my comment to article which you can find here:

 

This is Danny Faragher. I, along with my brother, Jimmy, was one of the founding members of the Peppermint Trolley Company. Hey, I’ve enjoyed reading the blog, and the comments, especially Cy’s “in-real-time, stream of consciousness” take on the album. It occurred to me, however, that I could add something to the discourse.

I’d first like to correct a couple of errors. The band was from Redlands, not Redding, CA, which is about 70 miles east of L.A. in the Inland Empire. The group evolved through a number of members and names from it’s early formation in 1961. Although Bob Cheevers, a friend of ours, was part of the replacement group after we walked away from our contract with Acta, he was never a member of the authentic band, which consisted of: Jimmy Faragher, bass, Danny Faragher, keyboards, and horns, Greg Tornquist, guitar, and Casey Cunningham, drums.

We came up with the name in the summer of 1966, when it was a bit more hip. This before “Good Vibrations”, before “Ruby Tuesday”, “Sgt. Peppers”, and the Strawberry Alarm Clock. The hippie movement was yet to go mainstream. In the summer of 1967, we moved to L.A. to pursue our recording career full time, moving into a rat infested house in Silver Lake. We didn’t have much to eat, we were broke, and didn’t have a TV to distract us. What we did have was a record contract, access to the studio, and time. Time to write, arrange, and rehearse. Which we did.

We were far from being bubblegumers, Our politics were left wing. We didn’t just talk the talk, either, we literally walked the walk, participating in many anti-war marches, getting in some scary situations, and witnessing police brutality first hand. We considered ourselves part of a rising counter culture, and got our news from the L.A. Free Press, an underground paper. The music reflects this. Our song “Fatal Fallacy” is anti-war, but recognizes the dark side of humanity with its embrace of jingoism, a warrior culture, and the cynical part organized religion serves in propagandizing. “Free” is about racial inequality. “Reflections” deals with the inevitability of death.

Our record company, Acta, whose president, Kenny Meyers, was an old school record man, was geared around the 45 single. We knew the market was changing. LP’s were becoming more important. We really had to fight to get the go ahead to record the LP. Fortunately, our single, “Baby You Come Rollin’ Across My Mind” broke. With a hit record under our belts we got the green light.

We came from musically eclectic backgrounds, and the album shows this. Because we were so young, I think we were more open to being experimental.

Three months after the album’s release, we walked away from our contract, changed our name to Bones, and altered our musical course, rocking a little harder. In 1972 and 73 Bones released two LPs, and had a chart single. After the group broke up, Jimmy and I reinvented ourselves once again to join forces with brothers Tommy, and Davey and from the blue-eyed soul band, the Faragher Brothers, which released four albums.

Speaking for myself, I could not listen to the Peppermint Trolley album for thirty-five years. It wasn’t until people began to contact me a few years ago, and tell me how much it meant to them that I let myself sit down and listen. I was surprised by how well it held up. A bit naive in places? Yea, but, hey, we were still in our late teens. I think above all that it is honest. It’s also unafraid of being vulnerable.
I can now say I am proud of the record.

To read more about the Peppermint Trolley Company, visit the website http://www.dannyfaragher.com/bio/the-peppermint-trolley-company/

Sincerely,

Danny

 

Danny on Purple Haze Radio

October 23, 2012 in Events

Purple Haze

In a recent broadcast of 88.3 Southern FM radio show, Purple Haze, radio host and DJ, Nick Black, devoted the entire show to the music of Danny Faragher, Jimmy Faragher and the Peppermint Trolley Company. The show also features an interview with Danny.

Danny discusses the the story behind the music. He explains how the band was formed and even where they get their far out moniker comes from. If your a fan of Danny, the Peppermint Trolley Company or are just fascinated with the music of the 60s, you’ll dig it.

Purple Haze – January 27th, 2010

 

Special Thanks to Nick Black.