Ten Septembers Ago

September 9, 2011 at 7:29 pm (Uncategorized)

Are we really that clean? Do we dare do a thing like deserve to be this mournful for the country on this particular anniversary? Hiroshima + Saigon = The numbers in our history are staggering. Not that this generation is responsible for all of this or all of that, but neither is theirs. Who says we get to claim tragedy on the body of a nation with hands this dirty? We no longer need to get the spot off our palms, we need to keep the one spot left that has no treachery in it. In contrast, this is a beautiful land filled with fascinating and fantastic people, places, and opportunities. How can you not love that?

And the minutia of the thing: Could each city be any more city-centric? Living within the boundaries of the six one two, we shout about anything local from the rooftops. Is that good? Is it bad? Is it both in some way? Will the things that keep us together eventually draw us apart, or have the divisions drawn down party lines already cut deep enough to create a cultural gap… waiting to be filled with flood waters and debt?

Watching a movie about racing gave me some clarity and perspective about where we really are, and yet I do not know.


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Words for 8/26/11

September 6, 2011 at 3:05 am (Uncategorized)

It was a lot like the sun had gone down, but it was hiding behind loads of water clinging to ten thousand feet. Instead, we still had two hours to search the shore for color before the sun dipped into the loads of water clinging to the beach.

Spinning end to end, the air smelled like a fire was starting with only lighter fluid. The drift wood and gas station lumber were safe for the moment. Armed with coffee cups and Iowa distilled rye, we followed the steps back up to the surfside.

Wearing out my welcome in even the places I’m from, we made our way inland.

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August 14, 2011 at 10:11 pm (Uncategorized)

Thanks to all who made it out to the Cedar on Thursday evening. City Pages offered up a great synopsis of the event in print and photo form: http://blogs.citypages.com/gimmenoise/2011/08/coloring_time_debut.php

Some of the conspirators responsible for 318 Cafe and the Aster Cafe recently opened a new joint named Republic in the space that used to house Sgt. Prestons on seven corners. They are attempting to have live music that focuses on two-or-three member ensembles that perform in different configurations than is typical of each individual musician. For example, on Saturday 8/20, Casey O’Brien, Graham O’Brien, and I will be putting together a few new songs from a project called Proofreader that involves some sampling, drumming, bassing, and singing. We’ll be doing some Adam Svec tunes as well. Here’s the FB invite for more info: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=259584764071205

The show starts around 10:00PM and ends at 11:00PM. Make sure you hit up the West Bank Music Festival (https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=202324906484523) and then head down to Republic afterwards. Summer’s measures are ending… don’t miss the last chorus.

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Smells Like Cedar Spirit

August 7, 2011 at 11:11 pm (Uncategorized)

As I was opening a pabst blue ribbon on Friday evening at a delightful party on Chicago Avenue, I suffered a small incision on the tip of the middle finger on my right hand. This “injury” has been particularly bothersome for activities such as playing guitar, washing dishes, and holding stuff over the last few days. The experience, unfortunately, made the PBR taste a little sour. However, it allowed me to reflect on my childhood a bit.

I recalled my friend Adam and I taking small sips of liquor from bottles in his parents’ cellar. Since we clearly had to cover our tracks, we would refill the bottles with a little bit of some alternative liquid after the crime had been committed. Since we were in fifth or sixth grade, our understanding of the importance of the flavor of liquor was a little foggy. If the pilfered liquor had been brown in color, we would add a mixture of pepsi and water to the bottle. If the bottle was cream-based, such as bailey’s (this was our favorite), we would add milk. The more sleep-overs we had, the more the pepsi-or-milk-to-liquor ratio increased. I have no idea how often Adam’s parents actually cracked any of the bottles in their cellar liquor cabinet, but I now feel somewhat ashamed of us. I can see his dad pouring a glass of scotch after a day of hard work at (whatever he did) and detecting something off. On one hand, if your scotch had a hint of pepsi, it might be amusing to think of your 12-year-old child trying to cover up his testing of the alcohol waters. On the other hand, if you got a mouthful of warm milk that had been sitting in a bailey’s bottle in the basement for six months, I think that amusement would turn into grounding and probably a reassessment of your child’s capability of attending a university down the road.

Anyway, the real reason for this Sunday afternoon post is to tell you about a show at the Cedar Cultural Center on Thursday evening. Here’s the invite: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=206837042700184

Here are the details:

A night of improvised music featuring the following musicians:

Peter Pisano (Peter Wolf Crier)
Brian Moen (Peter Wolf Crier, Laarks, The Shouting Matches)
Joe Horton (No Bird Sing)
Bobby Mulrennan (No Bird Sing, Emot, Chastity Brown Band)
Graham O’Brien (No Bird Sing)
Casey O’Brien (Face Candy, Carbon Carousel)
Alexie Caselle (Roma di Luna, Kill the Vultures)
Martin Dosh (Dosh, Andrew Bird)
Mike Rossetto (Spaghetti Western String Co., Pines)
JT Bates (Alpha Consumer, Pines)
David Huckfelt (Pines)
Benson Ramsey (Pines)
Jake Hanson (‘Halloween, Alaska’, Wishbook)
Jeremy Ylvisaker (Alpha Consumer, Guitar Party, Andrew Bird)
Mijah Ylvisaker (Guitar Party)
Michelle Kenny (Jelloslave, Mississippi Peace)
Chris Cunningham (Mississippi Peace)
Chastity Brown (Chastity Brown Band)
Adam Svec (Adam Svec)
Chris Keller (Kristoff Krane)

with live art performed by Michael Gaughan (Ice Rod) and Zach Koss


See you there.


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Credits, Stories, and Thanks

May 15, 2011 at 4:10 pm (Uncategorized)


Weaks In The Waves was recorded and engineered at the Colfax Attic by Adam Krinsky. Drums recorded at Waterbury Studios. Mixed by Graham O’Brien and Adam Krinsky. Produced by Graham O’Brien. Mastered by Greg Reierson at Rare Form Mastering. Tracking contributions on Weaks In The Waves are credited to Graham O’Brien: Auxiliary Percussion, Drums, Programming, and Sampling; Ben Rengstorf: Accordion; Chris Salter: Guitar, Lap Steel, Vocals; Karen Salter: Glockenspiel, Vocals; Adam Svec: Guitar, Vocals; Eric Blair: Vocals; Robert Mulrennan: Guitar; Casey O’Brien: Bass. Art Design by Zach Koss. US and European distribution by Draw Fire Records (drawfirerecords.com).  All songs by Adam Svec (c) 2011.


Chris Salter and I have been playing together, formally, for almost 11 years. As Ted Held would say, Chris is a guitar scientist. He can put progressions together in his mind like no guitar player I’ve ever met. His virtuosic playing is coupled with a bit of a mysterious affinity for bands like Insane Clown Posse and Hanson. I have no idea how he keeps such an open mind about new music, but Chris constantly surprises me with the depth and breadth of sonic space in which he allows himself to indulge. I commented on how much I liked Chris’ part on ‘Burns To The Center’ the other day in rehearsal, and I asked him what he had changed since we first started playing that song. He admitted that he was playing about half as many notes as he had originally been playing. You know you are a master of your craft when you can cut the quantity of your performance in half and exponentially improve the quality.

If you’ve ever heard Karen Salter’s singing voice, you’ve probably burned with jealousy for a little while and then asked her to be in your band… or… maybe that’s just me. As well as being a fantastic musician and music educator, Karen is one of the most delightful people I know. Even throughout her pregnancy (Owen is due in early June), she has consistently compromised her comfort to help us get things accomplished. Especially on this new release, Karen’s performances are stronger than ever. During the recording session in January, she sang with the confidence and robustness of a pop star veteran.

Ben Rengstorf and I have been friends for about 13 years. After a childhood spent at the piano, Ben picked up the accordion a couple years ago. He actually took accordion lessons for a while just to get a knack for coordinating both sides of the machine. One day, he invited me along to his lesson to meet his instructor and talk about amplification options. As we walked into the second floor studio of the instructor’s (Dan) space, we were met by a room lined with accordions from floor to ceiling on three sides. Apparently, in addition to giving accordion lessons, Dan is also building some sort of giant accordion army. I really felt like I’d stepped into a 1930’s Parisian film. Since Ben has been my roommate for a number of years, he has to put up with me more than the other band members. Last Summer, Ben and I played guitar and accordion in the attic multiple days per week, and it inspired me to start and finish a lot of the songs that made the record.

One of the most unique and memorable contributions on Weaks In The Waves comes from Mr. Joe Horton. I’ve known Joe for a couple years, and I’ve been more than pleased to see him grow into his art and define his role as a man who belongs on the stage. I’ve also been fortunate enough to join Joe, Graham, Bobby, Peter P, and Casey for a couple improv sessions across the city in the last year. We asked Joe to riff over the wordless chorus of ‘Christopher’ one very cold January day when he and Bobby stopped by the tracking sessions. He and Adam (Krinsky) laid down some options later that week. I think his addition makes the song ‘jump off the page’ so to speak. Joe also added some beautiful rhodes parts on a number of tracks.

Graham often enlists musicians for added textural components of his recording process. Bobby (Robert Mulrennan) laid down some beautiful space-y guitar takes that you will notice in the transitional periods of many songs if you listen ever-so-closely. If Bobby had a motto, I would imagine it goes something like, “look cool, never overstate my guitar tones, but stab and attack when necessary.” Casey O’Brien was originally enlisted for texture, but his bass parts were so fresh that I had to ask him to play the release show. Casey: “Hey man, what key is that in?”; Adam: “Uh… E? ish?.” Since I’m kind of a chord structure idiot, Casey had to figure out most of his parts by listening to these tunes only a couple times, and figure it out he did.

I met Adam Krinsky at Common Roots last Autumn to talk about guitar tones. We talked about recording in general, but I kept bugging him about how well he recorded guitar tones. His response was a calm and casual, “Yeah, I think I can get you the guitar tones you’re looking for.” At the time, I guess maybe I wasn’t fully aware that I was talking to an IPR instructor and accomplished engineer that had worked on records with the likes of Pieta Brown, Peter Wolf Crier, The Alarmists, Boyz To Men, Kristoff Krane, and of course No Bird Sing. When Adam and I carried all his gear up to the third floor, dialed in some tones, and started listening to what we were getting; I realized that my questions probably sounded a little juvenile. Not only could Adam capture the essence of an amplifier, he could maximize the potential of any room to sonically work to his advantage. With microphone placement and positioning, he made every take sound gangster (“gangster” is Krinsky’s version of “good,” which I have since adopted).

After the tracking was finished (which also included a couple of days of drum tracking at Waterbury, where Krinsky and Graham woodshedded all the parts), Adam passed the files over to Graham. Graham O’Brien is a dry-humored citizen of West Saint Paul that likes to surf the internet, play drums, and mix the hell out of some songs. If he has other hobbies, he has kept them a secret from me. Graham has probably volunteered more time to this project than any other player. He wrote drum parts, co-mixed the album, worked on licensing contracts, and is playing the release show with us. I can’t thank Graham enough for joining the team. If you’re looking for someone to record your songs, I recommend the dynamic duo of Adam Krinsky and Graham O’Brien.


Brenda Rengstorf has been overly gracious this year. Not only did she allow the team and I to track a record in her bedroom, she also let my friend John Paul Burgess and I shoot a film in her living room. For her troubles and her patience, I try to update her liquor cabinet when I think of it, but she asks for little else.

Although I spent the last year finishing the structure of the songs that appear on the album, every player contributed massively to the outcome. The distribution of effort will hopefully be reflected in the ASCAP assignments. Thanks to Graham O’Brien, Adam Krinsky, Ben Rengstorf, Chris Salter, Karen Salter, Owen Salter, Joe Horton, Robert Mulrennan, Casey O’Brien, Holly Munoz, David & Carol Rachac, and Brenda Rengstorf.

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Protected: Weaks In The Waves (Mixes, Tentative Order)

April 25, 2011 at 5:29 pm (Uncategorized)

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Weaks In The Waves

April 25, 2011 at 4:26 am (Uncategorized)

Dear Minneapolis,

We’ve been close for quite some time. I’d like to introduce you to my good friends Adam Krinsky and Graham O’Brien. They have taken the work of Chris Salter, Karen Salter, Ben Rengstorf, Eric Blair/Joe Horton, Casey O’Brien, Robert Mulrennan, and myself, and turned it into a masterpiece. I do not take much credit for this sorcery, but I will gladly promote the hell out of it. The record is called “Weaks In The Waves.” It sounds like a magic wand, and it will be released at Cause on 5/20/11. In addition, we’re having a listening party at the Aster Cafe on 5/17/11 from 8-10PM (where, hopefully, the album will be for sale… for all you daytimers). In addition to that addition, Bethany Barberg and David Campbell have graciously asked us to record some tracks for 89.3 The Current. A track off the new record will be the Song-Of-The-Day on 5/13. Soon enough, we’ll have songs for you to stream.

Addendum to the additions: Andrew LaValle (voted “badass DJ of all”) is going to have us on Radio K’s Off-The-Record on 5/20.

A little bit of back story about the album: My roommate and bandmate, Ben Rengstorf, volunteered at an orphanage in the Dominican Republic during the summer of 2009. While visiting him for a week at the end of his assignment, my friends and I discovered that Hispanola is another world. Although there are wealthy spots on the island, the majority of the citizens are quite un-wealthy. Many of the songs on “Weaks In The Waves” have connections to a perspective-shift that happened within me on that trip. I am, at heart, a selfish person, but I am doing my best to fight that. I hope this record allows you to listen beyond the boundaries of self-discovery and keeps you honest in a boundless world… I also hope it’s catchy as f*ck and it makes you want to listen to it more than once.



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Future Proof

January 2, 2011 at 7:30 am (Uncategorized)

Happy *&&#*U(&#*(&# New Year! I bet y’all thought I’d gone away for good… nope! Chris, Karen, Ben and I are going to begin recording a new album with Graham O’Brien and Adam Krinsky at the end of January. We’ve got about 18 new songs to work with, but I think we’ll keep it to 10 or 12. If you heard Graham’s album “Live Drums” released this past year on NoEcho Records (http://www.noechorecords.com/) out of London UK, you’ll be excited to hear what he does with the drums and mixes of our upcoming record. I don’t have a working title for the album yet, but I’m sure it will come to me in the next few weeks.

In case you didn’t catch Food For The Beloved’s Christmas album, here’s a link to it: http://foodforthebeloved.wordpress.com/2010/12/16/a-beloved-christmas-with-food-2010/. Tim was kind enough to add a track of mine called “Waking Up My Brother” to the compilation which Gunnar Gunderson and I worked on.

The team and I have been recording some demos to send to Adam and Graham in anticipation of the recording session. I’ve attached a couple of the demos recorded with just one Rode NT1A microphone and Centrance MicPortPro preamp. It’s all through one mic at one time, so it’s a little rough, but… you get the idea.

Belfry 12.28.10

Alma Mater Dear 12.28.10

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Poem for 5.1.10

August 9, 2010 at 8:16 pm (Uncategorized)

the fastest fist in the west couldn’t quite make the cut
those guns laid him down and spread out his guts
with blaspheme on his lips, he breathed one more time and took a dive
to slip into aimless body function and complete shit while he quit being alive

I don’t want to power through a gunfight just to swing hard and not survive

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Burns to the Center

July 14, 2010 at 7:29 pm (Uncategorized)

I wrote a song this past March titled “Burns to the Center.” It’s a letter to the 14-year-old version of me that I plan on sending back to 1994 in a time machine whenever the UPS guy shows up with my damn dolorean. The chorus reveals, “There will be time for the serious fires when we’re older because all of these fires we’ve started will never be over. There’s always more gasoline and always more heat. It burns to the center and makes you much better, believe me.” I kind of like it… It’s a very slow song, and it reminds to keep things in perspective. We’ve all got irons in the fire, and we always will (until death does part us). Basically, the letter just says, “Hey Adam… take about a dozen chill pillz and call me in 16 years.”

Little known fact (to me anyway), the date that supposedly represented “the future” in Back-To-The-Future-Part-II was July 5, 2010. Thanks to Alex and Ben for the update. If you’re in the neighborhood, come to the Kitty Cat tomorrow and the 501 on Saturday. Chris, Karen, Ben, and I are going to be tearing up the town (and by “tearing up,” I mean “playing fairly slowly and calmly”).

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