I spent the weekend in Los Angeles, working on pre-production for the next Joshua Ketchmark record. We mostly tinkered with his rough demos(some rougher than fact, some didn't really need much in the way of our help, truth be told), my drummer Kenny & I, refining whatever rough edges we thought needed a little something extra. I focused primarily on melody ideas, shifting the odd chord here or there, and hopefully taking things up a notch where they may have been lacking, while Kenny refined the drum parts, and helped me drop in some additional guitar and vocal hooks throughout. I think Josh has a good batch of tunes on his hands here, especially considering how prolific he's been over the last year or two. I guess we'll find out soon enough, because they're set to start tracking drums in Hollywood at the end of this month.

The weather was gorgeous, as always, even if we didn't see that much of the sun since we were holed up in the studio(with a fridge expertly stocked by the lovely better half of Mr. K.), and I did manage to catch up with a few folks while I was there. Shane Tassart, from my old band Best Of Seven, popped in long enough to lend an ear and an idea or two to the process. Oddly enough, I had just reconnected with our old bass player Brian Wong  2 nights earlier in Nashville. We hadn't seen each other in 10 years, but he was in town, working as stage manager for Styx, and had the night off before their show at The Ryman Theater, so we hung out for a couple of hours and caught up. At least, that's what we did when he wasn't attempting to convince my girl to leave me for him. Thankfully, he's married, and she respected that union, or I might have lost her to Budweiser's "goodwill ambassador", as we have long referred to him. Here he is, pouring on the charm.

I forgave him, since he got us tickets to the show the following night. It was good to see he hadn't changed a bit. I always loved that guy.

So, after narrowly avoiding the loss of my lady friend to a vagabond Lothario, I boarded my plane to California, only to discover that Clare Bowen, who plays Scarlett on ABC's 'Nashville' was seated in first class. I've gotta say, she looked better in person. Oddly enough, on my return flight, in the exact same row, but two seats to the right, was her cast-mate JD Souther, who plays producer Watty White. I imagine that role isn't much of a stretch for him, being as he's written some of the biggest hits The Eagles ever had:"New Kid In Town", "Heartache Tonight", "The Best Of My Love", and the list goes on. Honestly, when he breezed by me in line, I thought he was an unusually spry Merle Haggard. It took me a good look as I was getting seated to put it together.

Anyway, in L.A., when we weren't working on Josh's stuff, we spent an evening drinking wine in a $17M, 17-level, former convent/priests' retreat, while Josh filmed scenes for a song called "Without You", from his latest EP 'The Ignited'. The shots at the top of this blog were from various locations throughout the house, which is filled with everything from hidden passageways, a secret elevator that leads to a prohibition-era wine cellar, a chapel with a genuine pipe organ built into the walls, and even a pool. When the place was built in 1928, for $500,000, it was the most expensive personal residence in Hollywood. It's currently being eyed by a major pop vixen(whose name I swore I would not repeat if I were to tell any of this story), for purchase and serious remodel, since it still bears all the sisters' tweaks in decor, as well as most of their religious artifacts and many of their belongings.

The scenes being shot were based on the film 'American Psycho', with Josh playing the Christian Bale role, and our friend Nikki taking on the main victim duties. Here are the two ex-lovebirds, mid-shoot.

And here is the ridiculously gory aftermath of his character's rampage.

I've left out the craziest detail of this whole bloody affair by neglecting to mention that this property they were filming on is directly next door to the Tate-Labianca house, where Charles Manson's "family" committed their most infamous crimes, which included the murder of actress Sharon Tate and her unborn child. As if the building itself, with all of its half-lit hallways, ominous statuary, and roving faux-corpses wasn't creepy enough, the caretaker(who happens to be an old friend of ours) hipped us to that bit of info and pushed the whole spook factor over the edge.

The next morning, most of us unscathed by the long hours and many drinks(MOST of us), we hit Blue Palms for an early lunch, before navigating some serious traffic to get Kenny to the airport in the nick of time to catch his flight. (My experience the following morning was the polar opposite...wide open roads, and virtually no lines other than the usual lengthy security check.) With one hungover ex-cadaver passed out in the back, we made our way into Burbank and dropped off a pair of flash drives, and a DVD-R to our video editor Mike J. Nichols, who is going to take a stab at editing together all the footage assembled for "Sherrybaby", just in time for the new EP's release. Conveniently for me, it gave me a chance to grab a drink at my favorite West Coast watering hole, Tin Horn Flats, which was unfortunately overrun by Chicago Bears fans. We made our exit before the Bears' loss, which was probably a good thing, since some of these folks were entirely too enthusiastic, and I couldn't have possibly cared less.

Thai food from Toi, and the latest episode of The Walking Dead later, I was sound asleep. By the same time the following night, I was back in Nashville, drinking a margarita and eating taquitos at El OK Corral. It was almost like I'd never left.

If you made it through all that, let me just say one more thing. Anyone in the Central Illinois area, I'll be at Double T's in Morton this Friday(11/16) night, doing acoustic sets. It's 21 & up, free to get in, and you never know who might join me for a song or two or three. Come on out, but please DO NOT buy me shots, I have a wedding to attend the next day.

As soon as I get back from Illinois, we head over to Michael Webb's to cut the last of the keyboard tracks for the new record(s), and then we mix. This thing is truly just around the corner, finally...fingers crossed.

Until next time,