Hey all,

There’s been some confusion about the show on Sunday, so here are the exact details. There will be a closing show for the portmanteaus art installation at The Curiosity Shoppe from 6-8pm, followed immediately by a reading and concert next door at Amnesia from 8-10pm! The readings will start at 8 and the music will start at 9pm sharp!

To wit:

What: Pink Thunder Portmanteaus Art Show Closing Party
When: 6-8 PM
Where: The Curiosity Shoppe
855 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 671-5384

What: Pink Thunder Book+CD/Vinyl Release Show and Reading
When: 8-10 PM
Where: Amnesia
853 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 970-0012

The poets who will read are:

D.A. Powell
Gillian Conoley
Jesse Nathan
Jesus Castillo
Alyssa Valles

And Kevin Seal and I will be playing a bunch of the Pink Thunder songs in duo + volunteers (yes, that means you!) format!

If you see different information out there on the web, it’s wrong y’all!

It’s going to be a great night! Please come.


There’s just one more week to see the Pink Thunder portmanteaus at the Curiosity Shoppe. Can’t believe it, but it’s true. From what I hear they are getting plenty of listening and general curious attention, and that’s fantastic.

The other thing is this:

Please come!


Over the last six years I have been working on turning poems by two dozen fantastic American poets into indie-rock free-verse songs. The record that resulted from this project is called Pink Thunder. Happily and at long last, today is the official release date!

Pink Thunder comes in three flavors:


There’s a hardcover book version, which contains the CD of all the songs, along with with an introduction by Scott Pinkmountain, an artist’s statement by yours truly, and beautiful hand-lettered poems by Arrington de Dionyso. Published by Black Ocean Books. Here’s what it looks like (cover art by Tony Calzaretta):


There’s 12″ vinyl and digital from The Kora Records, and a pink vinyl 7″ from Howells Transmitter and Black Ocean.




And for those of you in the Bay Area, the record is also available in portmanteau form. Portmanteaus combine a found object display with a digital music player. I made them (Mark Allen-Piccolo designed the music-player circuit). The Curiosity Shoppe in San Francisco will be showing the Pink Thunder Portmanteaus from October 18th to November 18th. There an opening party on October 18th from 6-8 pm. Please come!





We are booking shows around the US over the next few months. We’ll be at the Mission Creek Music Festival in Iowa City in April, and in Boston in March to play at AWP. More shows to be announced soon!

In the meantime, the San Francisco release show is November 18, just after the closing party for the portmanteau art show at the Curiosity Shoppe, at Amnesia. That’s an early show, from 7-9pm.


If you want to know more, hear the music, see a video or some pictures:

You can see the video for “Florida” (poem by Travis Nichols) here
You can listen to Florida” here
You can listen to “Civics” (poem by David Berman) here
You can see some more pictures of the portmanteaus here


If you want to buy the book, vinyl or digital:

You can buy the book from Black Ocean here (first 250 orders get the pink vinyl 7″!):
or from Amazon here.
Buy the music from The Kora Records here
or from iTunes here
You can buy the pink vinyl 7″ from Howells Transmitter here.
And you can see (and buy) the portmanteaus from 10/18-11/18 here. Here’s a picture from when I was putting in the installation:





Joshua Beckman
David Berman
Carrie St. George Comer
Gillian Conoley
Bob Hicok
Noelle Kocot
Dorothea Lasky
Brett Fletcher Lauer
Anthony McCann
Valzhyna Mort
Hoa Nguyen
Sierra Nelson
Tyehimba Jess
Travis Nichols
D.A. Powell
Matthew Rohrer
Mary Ruefle
James Tate
Joe Wenderoth
Dara Weir
Matthew Zapruder


Mark Allen-Piccolo
Gene V. Baker
Doug Boyd
Nate Brenner
Ryan Browne
Kyle Bruckmann
Sean Coleman
Tyler Corelitz
Lark Coryell
Eli Crews
Matt Cunitz
Angie Doctor
Shayna Dunkelman
Dale Engle
Jem Fanvu
Evan Francis
Darian Gray
Steve Hogan
Jed Holtzman
Kurt Kotheimer
Michael Kaulkin
Georgiana Krieger
Alan Lin
Chris McGrew
Dave McNair
Ava Mendoza
Lynne Morrow
Melody Parker
John Paddock
Kevin Seal
Michelle Solomon
Beth Vandervennet
Jeff Watts
Jessica Zapruder
Levi Zapruder
Michael Zapruder


On Saturday I spent a few hours playing photographer. I wanted to make a light box to take some photos of the Pink Thunder portmanteaus, so I followed the directions on this blog post at Strobist to make one out of cardboard, tissue paper and posterboard.

It worked out pretty well. The photos still need to be edited, but if you’re curious, click on the photo below to take a look:

Thanks Strobist!

Test Pressings

Test pressings for the four-song Pink Thunder 7″ arrived this week. This is the first music I’ve ever had pressed on vinyl, and I’m excited! These test pressings are black vinyl, but the real things will be pink.

I’m finding that evaluating test pressings is hard. You have to listen to every pressing and make a note of anything iffy that you hear (pops, surface noise, distortion etc). Then you have to compare that part of the music with all the others. If you hear the same flaw on all the pressings, then it might be a flaw in the original cutting. If that’s the case, that side will have to be re-cut. But, if you hear anything that might be a flaw, you have to repeat the process on someone else’s turntable and system just to make sure. It’s kind of like having Kurosawa’s Rashomon playing in my head constantly.

It’s fantastic to see and hold this first actual evidence that Pink Thunder will be available to the world at large soon. I started this project in the Fall of 2006!

Lots more news to come.

Until then, have fun!

Connie ConverseConnie Converse.

Her song Talkin’ Like You (Two Tall Mountains) has a fresh melody on the words “don’t see why they call it lonesome…” It’s chromatic and dissonant, leaping up (to a note referred to as the key’s tritone), then drifting back down by half-steps into more well-worn paths. Very unusual. It has a delicious kind of pungent flavor. Plus the song has the line “…up in the tree there’s sort of a squirrel thing…”


This is kind of like Vashti Bunyan’s story, except instead of being discovered and re-emerging to great acclaim like Vashti Bunyan, Connie Converse is still little-known, and still gone. She packed up her VW bug at the age of fifty, wrote some goodbye notes, and disappeared.

You can listen to the whole recording, and buy it if you are so inclined, here:

Connie Converse – How Sad, How Lonely


This is from 2009. A lovely, long interview with Leonard Cohen in his house in Montreal. The whole thing is really good, and the very end is pretty great. After the official interview ends, Jian Ghomeshi confesses that he has an incredible fear of death. Leonard says that if the preliminaries aren’t too unpleasant, he looks forward to it.


Recent musical discoveries and things

Lately I’ve been listening to three records:

Orchestre “Kanaga” de Mopti


An album by Rokia Traore:


and I found a box with every melodie composed by Francis Poulenc!

Here’s a performance of his song cycle Le Bestiaire, from poems by Apollinaire. The Carp is my favorite. So beautiful. It starts at 3:30:


poisson de la melancolie!

I am just discovering Hector Zazou. He did some recordings combining poetry and music which is why someone told me about him.

I lived in Nepal for a year, and this video really makes me miss it (even though Mumbai is pretty far from Kathmandu). The fact that the footage from Mumbai is interspersed with footage from the recording studio makes it even better, since the recording studio, with its long hours and all-consuming process, is a lot like its own country, too.