A New Venture

As longtime readers of my blog have probably noticed, I’m love all aspects of music — making it, listening to it, reading about it, writing about it — so it may come as little surprise that I’ve decided to take my interest in music to a new level by starting a label. It’s called Hungry Hour Music, and its focus is experimental music by independent artists from the Philadelphia area. One of our first releases (other than music I’ve already put out) is an album of acoustic instrumental music by my friend Timothy Simmons. It’s slated for release on September 25 and will be available as a download through all of the major online music outlets, include iTunes and Amazon.

Here’s a link to information about the label’s underlying philosophy: Why?

And here’s a link to information about how the label works: How?

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A Longish Preamble to My New Song

Between the ages of ten and thirteen, I went to a Catholic school just beyond the city limits of Philadelphia. You knew you were leaving Philadelphia because you had to cross a bridge that spanned a set of railroad tracks and ended at the top of a steep hill that descended into the wilds of suburbia. The school sat at the top of the hill, right next to the railroad tracks.

The school didn’t have a schoolyard per se. But it did have a church, and the church had a parking lot, and that’s where we were sent to play at lunchtime regardless of weather or time of year.

Worth noting is the fact that the church was a long block away from the school, and that the long block ran parallel to the train tracks. What this means in practical terms is that the church parking lot where we played every day at lunchtime was right next to a set of train tracks. Other than a low dirt hill and some shrubbery, nothing stood between us and the tracks — not to mention the trains that roared by every twenty minutes or so.

Also worth noting is that the church parking lot was built on the same hill that the school and the church were built on. Again, if we’re thinking about this in practical terms — or at least geographical terms — it means that if the parking lot was level (which it was), then there would be a steep drop at one end.

So at one end of the parking lot there was a set of heavily trafficked railroad tracks, and at the other end was a twenty-foot drop. Between these boundaries ran a horde of ten-to-thirteen-year-olds who liked to set things on fire and believed that everything they saw on pro-wrestling was not only real but should be emulated. Amidst all of this, there was one person (me) who just wanted to be left alone to read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and the latest issue of Doctor Who Monthly.

There was also a lamp.

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It turns out that I didn’t get much reading done, largely because I was trying to navigate the Scylla and Charybdis of the church parking lot while also trying to avoid the hordes of preteen boys who wanted to use me as a prop in their efforts at staging the latest wrestling moves they’d seen on television. Also, my interest in reading and a tendency to make references to things like “Scylla and Charybdis” did not endear me to anyone in my age bracket. Or anyone outside of my age bracket, come to think of it.

The upshot of all of this is that I ended up getting pounded quite a bit, and once went home with a concussion when my skull slammed against the blacktop. At the time, I thought everyone hated me. I felt like an outsider, and that made me miserable. The books I read and the TV shows I liked to watch gave me a bit of an escape, but what I really needed was someone to tell me to forget about all of the kids who made me feel like I didn’t belong — to tell me they could all go to hell. To tell me, in essence, to fuck ’em.

And that’s where this song comes in…

The Dukenfields: Old Pal, Old Sock, Old Kid

First, a bit of trivia: Dukenfield was the surname of Philly-area-born showbiz legend WC Fields — and that’s where Philly-area rockers the Dukenfields got their name. The songs on their latest EP, Old Pal, Old Sock, Old Kid have a strong, tight post-grunge 90s sound that calls to mind the Gin Blossoms and Huffamoose with hints of Weezer and Third Eye Blind. Listen close for the cool, buzzing, retro synth line towards the end of the opening track, “Phillies 6-4.” And definitely check out the dreamy vibe of the closing track “Goodbye.” That one’s a waltz, by the way, which underscores what makes the Dukenfields so fun to listen to: they have a familiar sound like a comfortable old shoe (or old sock as the case may be), but they also have a few surprises up their collective sleeve.

You can listen to the Dukenfields on BandCamp and Spotify.