B R E S K I N T U N E S 


2002

2001

2000



Here is a sampling of my music, my not-so-secret joy...

I wasted a lot of time early in life trying to mix music and money. Boy was I wrong. It's NOT about money. I got to be a really good electric lead guitar player by the time I was 21, but in retrospect, I probably should have learned to play Jazz Standards, or Bossa Nova, or to play a role in a recorder consort.

I ended up breaking the headstock off my Martin D-28 (by accident, but what is an accident, anyway?) and sticking it under the bed for the better part of 15 years while I figured out something more socially useful to do with my life than lugging guitars around.

In fact, it took me over 30 years to learn how to take the time to " play for the play of it. " I have friends who look like grown-ups who are still trying to find " careers " in music, and most of them spend more time on the career part than they do on the music.

Big mistake there. Makes a lot more sense to focus the career energy on something that is more satisfying and more financially rewarding than self-promotion, and then buying some time to play for play.

Picture of Joe Breskin shot by Lissy Abraham - probably the best candid portrait shooter on earth - click this image for a completely different portrait of Joe, a double-exposure by Lowell Jons, who does awesome nature photography as art
Generally, this music is " first take " stuff, so by nature it is risky and sometimes it doesn't work all the way through. But it is always as real as it can be. I am NOT a multi-track person, I do not expect to " fix it in the mix ". And I rarely play it better the second or third time. What I am looking for is intimate CONTACT with another person in real time ... through this channel.

    The basic questions this music attempts to address are:
  • how close can I come to playing what I think you want to hear?

    This is a matter of " raw " ear-hand coordination, and for me it varies substantially from day to day.

  • How close can I play to where I think you are going to go next?
  • This is a matter of communication skills and experience.
  • I sometimes describe it as the output of a fast case-based reasoner.

The Recording Equipment
(the studio that fits in a book)

Almost all of this stuff was recorded with Len Moskowitz' wonderful Core Sound "battery box" Binaural microphones, connected to a Sony TCD-D7 DAT Walkman, recording at 48Khz.

The DAT was dumped to my hard-disk using Syntrillium Software (now part of Adobe) Cool-Edit'96 or Cool Edit 2000 and Cool Edit was used to edit and to clobber the WAV files down to Real Audio files that are 1% of their original size. Unfortunately, in the RA format you can't tell how good Len's mics sound. However, there is a great deal to learn here about the effects of RealAudio, and ultimately about what "works" in RealAudio (and what does not) from this page.

During the summer of 2001, on the way to WOMAD, I stopped at Fred Myer and got a Sharp Minidisc recorder to replace the portable DAT recorder, which had died after 5 years of faithful service during which it ate about $500 worth of AA batteries. Sharp minidisc recorders rule, and if you are considering getting involved in live recording using minidisc technology, read this FAQ-like compilation of answers I've written to readers' emailed questions.


The recording tools - the whole rig fits nicely into a hollowed-out Economics Textbook (Samuelson, of course) -
The links below will get you music or pictures or in some cases, lyric-sheets or sheet music. You must have Realaudio Player 3.0 or later and a 28.8 internet connection (or better) in order to hear these tunes in RA. The MP3 files are surprisingly clear on this system at rates as low as 32 kbps but I could certainly put them up in other bitrates. MP3 at 24Kbps stereo sounds better to my ears than Real Audio and the files are smaller. Let me know what you think. There are lots of MP3 files on the later pages.200220012000


Recorded as recently as 11-06-2000

Duets with John Nelson in 32 kbit/sec MP3.


Generally these are complete recordings with proper fades for endings. They are typically under 5 minutes long and under 1.5 MB files.

I have known John for nearly 30 years. He grew up in Port Townsend and we were house-mates in Seattle, long ago. John has run a recording studio called CROW in Seattle for many years. Since the days when there were less than a handful of studios in the Northwest. He finally got tired of swimming against the stream and shut it down.

At some point a few years ago I "gifted" him a Mexican-made classical guitar and it somehow opened a door back into his own music.
Now he has a CD of his original music out called Soliloquy thjat is getting good reviews, and a website up.


Since the Woodenboat Festival in 2000 we have been spending a couple of days every few weeks making up music and recording it. My DAT stuff does not sound near as rich as his 2-inch tape machine but there is something about this spot on the beach that keeps bringing out new music.

The recording setup we used for these recordings is very very simple - almost like mono. An Octava 319 Figure 8 condenser mic (outrageously dark sound - almost like a it was made to capture the color of a Bulgarian symphony orchestra) is positioned between us about 2 feet closer to John and an EV RE-16 dynamic is pointed at my guitar (near the neck - body joint) but mostly it is just serving as a phase mic
  • C major to F minor.
    I have been playing variations on this change for years. John is just about the first person who has learned the part I normally play, so that I can play the second part. This is the recording of him learning to play it. Begins with me showing him how it works.
  • Working Title unknown.
    We sat outside in the sun and people driving by stopped to listen. This is the first more or less complete exposition of the melody. Most of it derives from the Dinosaur song (see below) but it is much prettier, and there is a wonderful point where the melody sort of goes into freefall.
  • Avoiding Melody. Earlier in the weekend we sat outside in the sun, making up stuff. This one got us into a space that John called Lullabye, but when he asked me what I was doing I said I was avoiding melody. This has been processed with in CoolEdit 2000 using their compressor plugin - hence the mud in the filename.
  • R & B Groove - it pumps.
    Most people won't let me play against the rhythm like this. It "pumps" because I processed it one step too far with "undo" disabled. Live and learn.


Recorded 04-28-2000!!!

Duets with Emanuel Sass, from Germany.


- Mark Cole, the owner of the UpStage Restaurant in Port Townsend wrote me some email a few months ago that said:

" Dear Joe - Thanks for help and monster music. Please visit and give details and set up again .... and list to forward to performers. This week got two acts I think you'd like. One was the German didgeridoo player and pianist, Emanuel Sass. He's playing Wednesday early evening, although if anyone wants to jam, let us know, maybe he'll stay later. "

... so I dragged an acoustic guitar and a little amp down to his club late in the evening. And was totally amazed at what I found. This young fellow from Germany who spoke essentially no English, but could play American pop music with a depth of understanding I had not run into since the days when I hung around with Charlie Larkey and Tony Visconti in New York City in 1966.

Listen to how Charlie plays bass on Carole King's Tapestry Record. Or Tony's even more famous work, after he left NYC and went to London. There are NOT a lot of people "who get it" like that.

  • Opener. This is the first thing we tried to play. Listen to how we build an enormous level of trust almost immediately.


  • Piece Of Mind. - When we discovered that in spite of the fact that we had almost no common spoken language we knew the same music, the challenge suddenly became finding out how much of this music we both knew, so we set off on chase after chase. This one goes through a bunch of pseudo-gospel feels. Hence, I called it "piece of mind." The blues is mostly about being lost and blues singers whine about it a dark, mournful, minor kinda way. Gospel music, at its best, is about being found "found" and even when being found is mistaken for being free, there is a light in this music that I dearly love, a light that expresses iteslf most clearly in the major voices that are used at the end of the phrases. You already know this one - It's mostly " People Get Ready."

  • Catska's Tune. - Made up for Catska (see below) who walked in with her sweetie, science-fiction illustrator Cory Ench near the end of the show. Seeing them together pumped up the energy a little and since she plays some of my stuff with her band it seemed like a perfect turn about to play something that sounded a bit like her stuff.



Me with Flip, my kid sister from Bellingham.

At PSGW 1996 - David Querido Photo

Follow this link to a sampling of music from a CD called SIBLING REVELRY that I made for Flip, as a wedding present.

  • The Dinosaur Song. - My "hit" from 1993, Recorded LIVE in Vancouver, BC, October 11 '97. This was fun because we did the show without any PA at all. The recording mics are in the audience, front row center.
  • Se'A Hamba. - Flip's favorite South African freedom song. Recorded in Ande's living room November '97.
  • Faraway. - Peter Jung's fast Jig tempo Waltz played slow (contrary to his explicit instructions in "The Waltz Book " ) as the opening tune of my 49th birthday concert. Played amplified (mic'd) through an awkward PA. Recorded at The Public House in Port Townsend, WA, March 8, 1996 using a Sony TC-D5M analog cassette deck and a pair of Radio Shack PZM mics.
  • Eric's Waltz. - Eric Schoenburg is a master guitarist and one of Flip's oldest musical friends. I think we play this tune better than anyone. Again, from my 49th birthday concert. Recorded at The Public House. The PZM mics are stuck to the wall behind the muscicians.
  • Darling Asleep. - Better than anything else, Flip and I play Lullabyes. I don't know where this one came from. I do not really remember it from the singing of our mom. Or from our music box. Turns out Flip got it from Richard Scholtz. Again, from our concert in Vancouver B.C., recorded in a hard room with a low ceiling and no PA.



And with Heather Williams, a very sensitive player who doesn't play out much.

  • Golden Harp. - Heather's chords morphed into a pseudo-celtic harp song. Recorded in a living room late at night, 4-7-98. It looked to me like we played very well together and that we were going to be able to write music together but she was convinced that the Dinosaur song and many other lyrics I had written were offensive to women, and we then got into quite a bit of confusion.
  • Dead-end Street. - Basic orientalized pop tune morphing slowly into a specific pop tune, which I eventually realized I knew but that Heather did not know (you will hear this point in the recording), demonstrating the importance of knowing where your tunes are coming from. In this case it came from Phil Spector's first recording session as producer. He and Ben E. king also recorded "Rose in Spanish Harlem" in this session. I particularly enjoy the point at which I realize what song we are really playing and state the verse melody explicity for the first time. Recorded in the same nearly unbroken 2 hour session, the second time we had ever played together - in the livingroom of a sweet yet sort of spooky house full of religious artifacts and icons.



And with Catska, an incredibly talented kid: The ORIGINAL GLOBAL TEENAGER ™.




And with Scotty (John Scott), my pianist buddy from 1996 who escaped to Montana and now is moving toward Bisbee, Arizona.

  • The Junker Blues - It was late. Well after midnight. It was Blues Week, but I had already played a 4 hour gig. I showed up at 204 looking for new blood, but it was mostly a collection of pounders and blues wannabe's. Then this new guy I had never met walked in and sat down at the piano. He looked at me very seriously and asked if I had EVER found a way for people to hear each other in these jams... I pulled the D-7 out of my jacket pocket, draped the CSB mics over the piano's music holder, unzipped my Washburn , and sat down on the bench next to him. I said put these on and handed him the headphones. I pushed the red button, he hit the opening chords and started to laugh. You can hear it, it's on the tape. We played 'til dawn.
  • Drown In My Own Tears - After we played for a few nights we discovered that we had each learned Ray Charles' tune in very much our own way, and that they collided in several places. Over the next few months we gradually worked out ways to combine our disparate versions to get something we could both play. Scotty moved away before we really figured it out, but drops in to play every once in a while. This version was recorded in September 1997, the night before the Salmon Festival, on Richard and Marie Amerson's wonderful rosewood grand, while Marie washed pots and pans at the other end of the room.



And with Johnny Z, (Johhny Glatzer) the reigning master of piano-bar jazz in Port Townsend.

Johnny has a new CD out and I have most of a website up for him where you can listen to samples of his music in Real Audio or MP3 formats. The stuff I have up on my site is VERY different from the stuff on his CD.
  • Running from love - Johnny plays a grand piano in a style reminiscent of Errol Garner, but he also plays wonderfully twisted pop music. He has this Korg synth and plays background music on it that probably belongs at a Ray Bradbury ice skating rink. This one is sort reminiscent of one of the mothers of all pop tunes. Catchy, familiar, but you can't quite name that tune, can you? Recorded on DAT at the little studio I put in his house, right before it got robbed.

  •    Misty at the UpStage 4/25/2000 - I am not really all that excited about old melodies - in fact, nearly every time I play something I am looking for a new 'fall line' through the chord changes. This night I walked into the UpStage, where I store one of my PA systems, to see what was up and Johnny Z and Joel Levy were in there. Johnny was playing Misty straight as an arrow. So I set up the DAT I keep in the pick-box of my Blue Heron guitar case, clipped the CSB mics to a pole about 12 feet from the piano and plugged in my guitar (I keep an old Ampeg bass amp down there, too). When the time came for the next verse, Joel handed it to me, and I took the solo. Johnny had never tried this song with me, so I really don't think he knew what to expect, but he was a very good sport and gave me two runs through the verse to define the melody, and then Joel came in with the vocal. He embraced the new melody quite wonderfully and as of last weekend, he still sings it that way. No mic on this man and this is a big room - he has an awesome voice! Johhny eventually decided we were having way too much fun making jokes out of the master's work and brought it to an end. The guitar sounds a little 'tubby' on this because the speaker in the Ampeg B-15 (glass 6SN7s on the first stage)is a JBL D-140 with the aluminum dome surgically excised, and because I had the cabinet open instead of sealed, in an effort to get a little drier sound out of it. Compare it to the stuff with Emanuel Sass (above) where I am playing my '53 Fender Deluxe (with military metal can 6SC7 on the front end and a 6SN7 next) through an ALTEC alnico 12.



And with Jim Nyby , the Jefferson County Librarian.

  • Oh, Suzannah. Really this is " Oh Suzannah " meets " Let It Be " - Jim can improvise gospel changes to my liking and we found some good musical puns in this jam. This was recorded at Port Townsend Country Blues Workshop '96, in Room 204 at about midnight, the night before I met Scotty. We had played together the previous year under similar circumstances, and although our music blends wonderfully in situations like this we rarely play anywhere else. I really love Stephen Foster music. He documented the settling of the north american subcontinent during a crucial period where the popular music of Ireland met the popular music of Africa, and was my first introduction to ethnomusicology, which I later spent years studying at the University of Washington (1968 - 1973). When I was in 5th grade I worked through (learning to sight-read and harmonize) a book of Steven Foster tunes on guitar and then in 6th grade, went through them again on Piano to learn rhythm. This was the first time I had played Oh Suzannah since 6th grade.



The two-headed me ... playing with myself, multi-tracked as 2 layers, both are the first try.

  • The Meandering Echo - From the very early '70's, both tracks recorded on my high-strung 3/4 size Fender Musicmaster with a homemade pickup. Plug the guitar directly into the preamp on the recorder, play the basic track until it feels like it's all been said, rewind the tape, put it in record and play along. By about 2/3 of the way through I start to remember what I played earlier quite vividly and the last time around is really tight. The reverb is tape reverb. I used a TEAC 3340S at 15ips and ran one channel back to the inputs, giving it a fun slap echo.



A much younger me, playing with Carter Renner, who was married to me for a nearly quarter century, in a life long ago.

  • Enter the Zen Guitar Dojo The Clint Eastwood Theme-song - From the very early '70's. Fairly typical of the music we played, but written to sell back when Clint was shooting a cowboy movie in Baker, Oregon. A lot of our friends went down there to be " extras ", but we never went down and never sent the song to anyone.

    Phil Sudo liked this one the best of the stuff I had on my site in the late '90's and recommended it on his own fascinating Zen Guitar website.

    This take was recorded by Jimmy Borsdorf (of Hawks and Eagles fame) in summer of 1986 when he and Nancy Bray were galavanting around the west on a mission funded by the State of Nevada. Jimmy got a grant to drive around and record music that was part of the folk process, but was " falling through the cracks " in the distribution system. In the folk tradition, Carter and I had not played for years, but we dug out the guitars and set up the mics and tried to remember how to play stuff we had made up about 10 years before. Isn't that a cool sounding compressor on the Mosrite? It was home-made by Ed Streeter (on a totally funky hand etched circuit board that looks like it was layed out using electrical tape and an exacto knife). He gave it to me in the parking lot in front of Morningtown Pizza in about 1969. I've still got it, buried under a pile of other stuff on my electronics bench.



And with New age music pioneer, harpist David Michael. David is one of the founders of a new Internet-based music community called Acoustic Dogma Check it out to see if their site is up yet.

  • Nola - A Live Improvisation that began as a jam on David's Mariachi tune and turned into a fun Zydeco dance tune. Live at the Ajax Cafe, Port Hadlock, Washington, November 1996. It is literally called Zydeco on the Sibling Revelry page.




And a sweet stolen moment with David Michael's Band, recorded in August '97 while he was out of the room.

  • Benji - with Ben Wertheimer from Ancient Future on Keys and Randy Meade on Flute. These musicians are part of a new Internet-based music community called Acoustic Dogma. Check it out.





And with the eccentric deviant cage-mate Nick Dallett. Recorded direct to HD at Foresight, 10/17/97

  • The thing that I wanted from you - A work in progress for almost 25 years, Guitar chords from an old friend, Michael Altman. He used them in the M.A.S.H. Theme he wrote for his dad, back when he was in Junior High School

  • Going Home - Nick's arrangement of Mark Knofler's tune from the soundtrack to the movie Local Hero
  • Dinosaur - Alternate take of Nick and me doing the "dinosaur song" live to HD at Foresight when we were cagemates AND still had time between projects to jam



  • If you want more bandwidth, ask me to put up some of these as .mp3 (mpeg) files. MPEG audio sounds about like the generic music programming people get off their satellite TV channels.

    airstream@olympus.net

    HOME - To the rest of the Breskin Dot Com Website

    HTML Design Copyright © 1998 Joe Breskin All music is © Copyright as of the date it was posted to the web, if not before, Joe Breskin and whoever else is part of it on the recording. MP3 files have copyright bit set. All Rights Reserved. Re-Distribution is fine, but do not sample it!

    Last updated 3-24-2003 to make links to 2001 page work. Prior major revision was 11-20-2000 to add stuff with John Nelson. Previous update 7-25-2000 added keywords and Misty. Previous update 4-14-200 to repair broken links on Benji, Thing that I wanted, and Meandering Echo